Serial creepy company Google tried to snoop on users by turning on the microphone with the Chromium browser without permission. Google got caught. Google caved. Kevin Tofel:
Giving in to user backlash, Google has removed code from Chromium that originally allowed the browser to listen in on a computer’s microphone. The code in question will no longer be included, starting with Chromium build r335874. Prior builds automatically downloaded an extension that could tap a microphone for the purpose of hearing voice commands.
On the surface that doesn’t sound nefarious when you consider that Google’s Chrome browser — which includes proprietary Google code — has had a similar function for months. The problem here is that Chromium isn’t Chrome; it’s an open-source browser. As such, all of the code can be publicly examined. Google was installing a code package that couldn’t be inspected and doing so without a user’s consent. That’s a big no-no for privacy advocates and flies against the spirit of open-source software.