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Mozilla Warns OF Chrome Surveillance Over Users

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Firefox and Chrome are competitors, Mozilla and Google have often clashed. At the start of version 94 of Chrome, Mozilla developers are now issuing clear warnings. A new function in the Google browser makes “physical monitoring possible”.

Chrome 94 can feed developers with activity data

Chrome 94 brings many new functions, but one of them is not aimed at users but is intended to provide website developers with more information on visitor behavior. Google has integrated an interface into its browser that can perform idle detection, called the Idle Detection API. It’s not just about detecting Chrome usage. As Howtogeek writes in his report, the browser can tell websites that the computer is not being actively used.

In principle, the function is automatically activated in Chrome 94, but a secret recording of the activity by websites is impossible. Similar to the attempts to access webcams and microphones, Google puts a clear query dialog in front of every query from websites. This makes it possible for the user to allow or reject the recording by websites.

Mozilla and Apple developers rail

Despite this design, there are clear headwinds from the developer community against Google’s approach. At the forefront of criticism is Mozilla’s web standards developer, Tantek Çelik, who vented his displeasure with Chrome 94 in a comment on Github: “I consider the Idle Detection API to be an alluring opportunity for websites motivated by surveillance capitalism to be in To invade aspects of the users’ physical privacy, “says Çelik. Websites that keep long-term records of users’ physical behavior could use this information for “proactive psychological manipulations”.

Mozilla is also getting a tailwind from Apple. Ryosuke Niwa, part of the development team of Safari-Basis WebKit, has great doubts about the usefulness of the interface: “First of all, there is no guarantee that the user will not return to their device immediately. And who should know which one with such a service another device the user is using at a certain point in time? ” Apple will “definitely not allow” websites to “know all the devices that a particular user is using at any given time.”

Mark Goodman

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