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Chrome Lets Google Websites Access Your System CPU & GPU Usage

A DMA violation?


Several months ago, the European Commission opened non-compliance investigations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) into Google, Apple, and Meta. In Google's case, it suspected that Alphabet, its parent company, tried to steer users toward using its services instead of the competitors'. The DMA violations are no joke and can lead to fines and acquisition bans, so companies should be really careful with how they do business.

Recently, software developer Luca Casonato found out that Chrome gives all Google websites full access to system/tab CPU, GPU, and memory usage as well as detailed processor information and logging backchannel. "This is interesting because it is a clear violation of the idea that browser vendors should not give preference to their websites over anyone else's," he said on X/Twitter. "Depending on how you interpret the DMA, this additional exposure of information only to Google properties may be considered a violation of the DMA."

As an example, Casonato mentioned that Zoom can't provide the same troubleshooting features as Google Meet, which shows what's up with your CPU usage. 

He said that it's done through the built-in Hangouts Chrome extension, which isn't displayed in the Extensions panel. Moreover, other Chromium-based browsers (Opera, Edge, Brave) also have it enabled.

If you want to test it out, developer Simon Willison helpfully provided the code you can paste into the Chrome DevTools console:

chrome.runtime.sendMessage('nkeimhogjdpnpccoofpliimaahmaaome', {method: 'cpu.getInfo'}, response => {console.log(JSON.stringify(response, null, 2));});

He agreed with Casonato that it might give an advantage to Google's services, and with the European Commission already watching its actions, the feature could potentially be removed soon.

If you wish to, well, not give Chrome your usage data, try Firefox (or any other non-Chromium browser) or Ungoogled Chromium, which removes Google web service dependency. 

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