Two days ago, Google released a new version of its web browser, Chrome 94, which has come with many changes, such as improved HTTPS connections, better integration with Google Drive or performance improvements thanks to the new WebGPU API. However, not all is good news for users of the Google browser, and this new version also includes a new controversial function that, if you are the least concerned about your privacy, you should take into account.
Chrome 94’s new feature to monitor users
The new Google Chrome 94 launches what is known as the ” Idle Detection API “, or inactivity detection API . This API is able to detect developers when a user is inactive in the browser, indicating, for example, the lack of interaction with the keyboard or mouse, the activation of the screen saver, the Windows session lock or the switch to a different screen.
This API can be used, for example, in chat applications or in social networks so that users know if a person is active or not. Also in kiosk applications, such as museums, to return to the beginning when there is no interaction or applications that perform very complex calculations, to free up the CPU when the user is working with the PC.
So far everything is correct. So where is the controversy? Google Chrome not only monitors activity in the browser or on a specific page, but it also monitors activity on the entire PC . In this way, any developer of any website can have controlled all the movements of the user.
This function is activated for all Google Chrome 94 users. Of course, before using it, Chrome will ask us in a similar way to when a website tries to access our location or our webcam. And we can control its status at any time from the “Site Settings” section of the website.
We can block your activity manually, but is it enough? We believe not.
Are you concerned about privacy? Use Firefox
As soon as Google has released this API, the developers of other browsers have shown their dissatisfaction about it. Mozilla , responsible for Firefox, has been one of the most critical companies in this regard, ensuring that this new API is too tempting an opportunity for websites, motivated by capitalism, to establish too harsh a vigilance towards the physical privacy of the user. With it, they will be able to create long-term records of users’ behaviors, know their daily rhythms and use this information to carry out proactive psychological manipulation (for example, take advantage of hours of hunger, states of emotion, etc.).
Apple , for its part, has also taken a stance against this surveillance. The apple giant claims that this is a very serious violation of user privacy. These types of functions should not be the web developers who control this, but the operating systems themselves or the browsers.
Each time, Chrome is having an increasingly dark soul. If you really care about privacy, it is better to go for other alternative browsers. That is, it is time to switch to Firefox . Only then will the Internet giants stop making money off of our data and attacking our weaknesses.