Google Chrome To Tell Users When Sites Try To Collect Data From Phones

A new feature will reportedly tell Google Chrome smartphone users when a website is trying to access and collect data transmitted from the sensors inside the phone.

A pop-up will alert the user each time a site tries to access one of the device settings, providing an option to turn it off or block it. It's not clear whether it also detects when an app is trying to obtain data.

The tool has been spotted in a test bed that Google calls Canary, where the company tests potential new features or checks for bugs and code issues, according to one report.

The process could put a glitch in ad targeting, and even search.

The sensors in the phone provide a wealth of information ranging from location to browsing and buying habits. Google Maps also offers up an itinerary as it tracks places visited until the user goes into their privacy settings to delete it.

The plethora of data provides a ton of information to brands that want to serve messages and advertisements.

For now the feature, which works in a similar way to an on-and-off switch, blocks all motion and light sensor data.

Some have discussed the change in Google’s Chromium message board, which notes that access to the device's sensors is enabled by default. Google wants to disable that access if needed.

Some analysts note the opposite. They believe Google will do little or “go light” to change the way Chrome protects consumer privacy when it comes to data.

“Stifel analyst John Egbert thinks Google will want to improve Chrome data privacy protections in some way, but the approach might be less "heavy-handed" than Apple's considering how much revenue Google gets from ads,” reports SeekingAlpha. 

The report suggests that the move to lighten privacy constraints will be good news for companies like Criteo and LiveRamp.

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