Aug 13, 2020 | Updated: 12:25 PM EDT

Why Is Google Chrome Always Listening To You?

Jan 23, 2014 04:59 PM EST


It turns out Google Chrome might be always listening to you through the microphone on our device because you’re letting it. The intent isn’t entirely nefarious but it could potentially be an exploit since Google Chrome has recently introduced listening features which any website can then request. Once a website gets permission to use your microphone it can open another window with the same domain and listen to sounds coming from your mic even when you close the original window that first asked you for permission.

Android Central has pointed out the potential vulnerability of this is that it is easy to lose track of which and how many windows you have open so a pop up that you don’t notice could be constantly listening to everything you are doing and every conversation you are having. Google acknowledged the problem back in September 2013 and even wrote code to fix it but has yet to incorporate the fix. That may still be some time because right as Android Central points out Google doesn’t want to change the standard behavior of how tabs listen.

A possible fix if you don’t want to allow Google Chrome tabs to potentially listen to you through your microphone is to never give permission for a site to use the microphone or use ad blockers and disable automatic popup windows entirely. You don’t need an app or program to do it. You can open Chrome setingsàShow advanced settingsàPrivacy settingsàContent settingsàPop-upsàDo not allow on any site. That should prevent any pop ups from appearing as sneakily trying to record you while you’re browsing. If all else fails you can also use Ad-Block or Ad-Block Plus for added security.  

By exploiting bugs in Google Chrome, malicious sites can activate your microphone, and listen in on anything said around your computer, even after you've left those sites. Even when not using your computer - conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised.

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Chrome 27 stable adds in the new Google voice search capabilities demoed at Google I/O. So we gave it the old "woodchuck" test.

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