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Any computer running the Chrome browser can be subverted to eavesdrop on conversations happening around it, claims a developer.
Ater, on the other hand, maintains that the Web Speech API requires browsers to abort speech input sessions whenever the user changes windows or tabs, to prevent the kind of abuse he describes. But the language that mandates that behavior was removed from the spec in a later errata, so that no longer appears to be the case.
And yet something seems to be fishy, because when we tried out some Web Speech API demos here at Vulture Annex in San Francisco – including Ater's exploit code and even Google's own demo – no persistent icon appeared in the system trays of our Windows machines or the status menu of our OS X computers while Chrome was listening, contrary to Google's online documentation.