Dell Will Soon Enable Privacy Controls for Linux Hardware

Nov 09, 2020

Dell makes it possible for Linux users to disable webcams and microphones.

Dell has completely embraced the Linux community. With one of the finest Linux-based laptops on the market (the XPS Developer Edition), Dell is definitely no stranger to open source and the needs of those who use it. Case in point, many Linux users are quite savvy in the realms of privacy and security. With most modern laptops equipped with webcams and microphones, which can be used (either by accident or via nefarious means) in less-than-desirable ways, it has become crucial for many users to have control over those features.

To that end, Dell has offered up code to the Linux kernel for the Dell Privacy Drivers. What this feature will do is allow users (via keyboard shortcuts) to disable the built-in microphone and/or webcam on supported devices. The applicable shortcuts will be [Ctrl]+[F4] for the microphone and [Ctrl]+[F9] for the webcam.

The Dell Privacy Drivers will go a long way to prevent malicious (or accidental) usage, but users will have to wait until 2021 for the new feature to find its way into Dell hardware.

It should also be noted that, tucked away in the code, there is mention of PRIVACY_SCREEN_STATUS, which could extend the Privacy Driver functionality to horizontal and vertical viewing angles of the screen.

For more information about Dell Privacy Drivers, check out the kernel.org entry.   

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