Tool could help prevent surreptitious snooping, data-gathering from webcams, microphones, GPSes
Microsoft researchers have developed a sensor widget concept that issues alerts and lets users control what others see from their webcams, microphones, and other live data streams. Microsoft's Jon Howell and Stuart Schechter say their research grew out of concerns that applications are able to access multimedia peripherals even after the user's activities are finished.
The researchers envision a sensor tool that provides an animated representation of how an application is gathering the user's data. The moment the application attempts to access these sensors, three sensor-access widgets will appear within the application, informing the user of the data that is about to be revealed.
The researchers recommend a configuration that lets applications access only webcams, microphones, and global positioning systems after users have had time to notice the application is about to gather data from them. We believe this is an important issue given the emerging class of application platforms that can enforce restrictions on the resources that can be accessed by applications.
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