Tommy Mysk, an iOS developer & security researcher, has shared how Facebook and Google Chrome are using your phone’s accelerometer. Both apps use your phone’s motion sensor to see if you’re using an app.
Mysk says that “an app [with accelerometer access] can tell if you are using it while lying, sitting, walking, or cycling.” Google Chrome, by default, shares your accelerometer data with all the websites you visit. By doing so, it is possibly circumventing some of the privacy features in iOS 15.
According to Mysk, an app can know several things by accessing your phone’s motion sensors in possible scenarios. For instance, it can tell if you’re using an app while standing, sitting, lying down, or walking. Apps and websites with this data can also know your health stats like your heart rate and breathing rate. While these are slightly tricky stats to access, it can be done if an app has your accelerometer access.
Chrome Gives Free Accelerometer Access For All
Google Chrome becomes a specific privacy risk because of its default handling of the issue. By default, Chrome shares accelerometer data with all the sites you visit. While Chrome lets you turn off the sharing, it still recommends you keep it on.
Other than Google Chrome, meta-owned apps like Facebook, Instagram, and even WhatsApp use accelerometer data for some function or the other. However, Chrome’s usage can be called the bigger problem as it shares data with third parties by default.
Also, this isn’t the only Chrome setting that you need to change immediately. Google is also testing FLoC to replace cookies and is already under fire from privacy advocates. While Google has tried to match iOS 15 with Android 12 privacy features, permission patterns like Chrome’s use of accelerometers by default remain a problem. If you want to browse the web more privately, you can check out our list of Google Chrome alternatives.