Chrome 94 has been released! As always with a new browser version, there are many features that you will see and get excited about. However, there are some things to worry about, including a feature that Mozilla claims allows you to monitor.
How the new Chrome feature is 'harmful'
Chrome 94 introduces a controversial inactivity detection API. Basically, websites can ask Chrome to report when an open webpage user is inactive. It's not just about using Chrome or a specific website: If you have logged out of your computer and are not using any applications, Chrome may tell the site that you are not actively using your computer.
As expected, developers love this new feature - anything that can give them more information about how users interact with their applications is positive. The feature is enabled by default in Chrome 94, but things may not be as bad as we think. As with using your webcam or microphone, a prompt will ask for your permission before inactivity data is used on a particular site.
See also: How to use Google Duo on a Chromebook?
The API seems to have been criticized by many, including rival browser maker Mozilla. The people behind Firefox say it creates an "opportunity for capitalist surveillance." Mozilla Web Templates Head Tantek Çelik commented on GitHub, saying:
As I currently clarify, I find the Idle Detection API very tempting for sites that are motivated by capitalism to monitor and invade an aspect of the user's physical privacy, to keep long-term records of the user's physical behavior, to distinguish daily rhythms (eg lunch) and use the data for preventive psychological manipulation;
I therefore find this API harmful and encourage further incubation, perhaps rethinking simpler, less invasive alternatives to resolving motivational use cases.
Of course, Mozilla is competing with Google Chrome, so it's no surprise that a competitor may say something negative about the feature created by Google.
We'll have to wait and see how developers use this news API in Chrome. It could turn out to be an absolute privacy nightmare - or it may not be a serious problem.
And, anyway, the sites will not be notified of your inactivity status unless they ask you to do so first and you agree to share it.
Source of information: howtogeek.com