While most people agree that parental controls are a must, how can we tell if a feature slips from “concerned parent” to “privacy violation?” Individuals must decide that for themselves based on all the information about a specific program or feature. The internet is an easy place to stumble upon things young users shouldn't find. Could this feature be abused to spy on other users, or is it a legitimate way to keep your computer safe?
In mid-October, 2013, Google rolled out a new feature that allows an account manager to view what “Secured Users” on their device were viewing on Google Chromebooks and Chrome browsers. The technology allows the manager to view the history in almost real time. Anyone can put this feature on any device that uses Google Chrome as an internet browser. As long as the manager profile is password protected, no other user can change the settings.
This new feature doesn't just allow the manager to watch a user's history, but also allows application whitelisting and blacklisting. Using the whitelisting option allows the manager to only permit certain websites or applications to run during a certain user's session. The blacklisting option is similar to how internet security companies prohibit certain sites or apps that have shown to have malware or viruses, but the manager can add any site deemed inappropriate for that user.
Google is one of the most innovative technology companies. With the release of the parental controls, currently in beta, and the Secured User feature, it allows users more control over what happens on their computers, and discourages activities that might produce viruses and malware on their systems. As long as everyone uses it for it's intended purpose, for protecting kids, and not to violate another person's privacy, then there won't be any issues.