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ChromeOS Set to Introduce Enhanced Privacy Controls and Geolocation Management in Upcoming Update

ChromeOS is anticipated to acquire some fresh privacy tools in an imminent update, with the primary one being the ability to regulate your Chromebook’s location privacy setting. As outlined in a publication, this characteristic signifies an expansion of the privacy management initiated by the company last year, specifically alluding to the microphone and camera adjustments initiated in April. Despite Google’s announcement lacking extensive details, recent comprehensive coverage by 9To5Google has provided clarity on the matter.

According to the publication, you can verify which applications and system services on your laptop possess ‘access [to] your geolocation,’ thereby affording you almost complete anonymity. Nevertheless, it’s not without imperfections. The publication elucidates that the tool ‘explicitly disables Google Location Services,’ yet it remains plausible for an application or website to estimate your current location by examining the IP address.

Geolocation controls presently exist on ChromeOS but are limited to the Chrome browser itself. On-device software can still harvest your information unless you access an application and manually deactivate the corresponding feature. This update will simplify the process, obviating the necessity for meticulous management.

Controls for camera, microphone, and location privacy

In addition to the privacy enhancement, ChromeOS will also unveil more detailed camera, microphone, and geolocation management options. For particular applications like Instagram, you can determine their interaction with your hardware. Access to a Chromebook’s microphone can be outright declined, permitted for unrestricted interaction, or set to an intermediate level. For instance, Instagram can access a webcam only when you, the user, are actively engaging with the social network. Otherwise, the access is blocked.

(Image credit: Google)

While the Google Cloud blog mentions other forthcoming features, these are primarily geared towards enterprise clientele rather than everyday users. It discusses local data recovery and an extension of Google’s data loss prevention policy.

A company representative informed us that the geolocation update will be deployed to all Chromebooks by the first half of 2024 – ideally before the end of June.

To locate the new tools, you’ll first need to access the Settings menu, and then navigate to the Security and Privacy section. They will be situated within the Privacy controls. Alternatively, you can visit a specific application in Settings and expand the Permissions section. The controls can also be accessed from there.

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