Never mind Samsung, GOOGLE will EAVESDROP as you browse on Chrome

Voice Search extension project described as 'Ear of Sauron'

Those uneasy about Samsung's "smart" television terms and conditions are going to have a nervous wobble about a project along the same lines underway at Google’s Chocolate Factory.

The realisation that anything spoken near your Smart TV might be recorded and transmitted to a third party is bad enough, but how about the possibility of "always-listening voice search" getting built into Google's Chrome browser?

The "always-listening" feature is available via Google Voice Search Hotword (beta) extension.

We’re indebted to Sean Sullivan, a security advisor at F-Secure, for going through the fine print and finding an interesting snippet explaining that “Chrome will listen for you to say 'OK Google' and then send the sound of the next thing you say plus a few seconds before, to Google.”

Sullivan ponders in a blog post: “That's the thing about voice ‘activated’ devices. They're always listening, [a]lways recording (to a buffer). The question is: how much gets uploaded to the voice recognition service?

“Are you comfortable with a ‘few’ seconds?”

Google Voice Search has been around for months – and we’ve covered it before – but exactly how it works it once again becomes topical in the wake of the Samsung Smart TV privacy flap. We asked Google to comment on how the technology works and will update this story as and when we learn more. ®


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