The Linux add-on, known as “Googerteller,” provides “audible feedback on just how much your browsing feeds into Google” and is listed on Github.
This Linux operating system add-on plays a sound effect to notify you whenever Google receives your data.
When it is operating, it makes a geiger counter-like sound.
It scares me more than it should. As Hubert types into the Google Chrome search field, the system beeps and makes noises, as you can hear by following along with the example video above (which uses the Dutch government employment website).
Bert Hubert, a software developer and member of a Dutch oversight board, developed the add-on. The beeps are caused by it obtaining information from publicly accessible Google IP addresses.
That indicates that Google is keeping track of your address bar keystrokes (which it does). When using Google Chrome, this helps to inform the autofill prompts.
But the video is more than that. We hear a beep as Hubert appears on the page. A beep is audible as soon as he clicks any listings on the website.
In addition, Hubert ran similar test on Firefox after he posted the video testing the add-on with Google Chrome’s data collection. The device keeps beeping.
“The issue here is that all kinds of websites snitch on you to google, without retrieving data you need,” Hubert added. “It beeps at the HTTPS request, but it has to go out on the wire. So if DNS failed already, you would not hear a thing.”
The add-on was criticised for using a false notion. According to a Twitter user, the beeps can be associated with a variety of internet activities, such as DNS requests, TCP handshakes, or the loading of Google Analytics scripts. The problem, though, is that there is so much information to generalise about that it becomes difficult to tell what Google is doing with all that data (it’s typically used for targeted advertisements).
If you find this frightening, you’re not alone. People shouted a collective “yikes” in the comments section in response to all the beeps. Consider adopting a more secure browser to increase your level of privacy (and, if you’re using Firefox, make sure you turn off tracking).
Googerteller can be installed on Linux-based operating systems, but one Twitter user claimed to have successfully used it on MacOS.