Edge, Webcam, and Anti-virus Software

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Contributor

I often find that my anti-virus software, Norton 360, informs me that Edge is seeking access to my webcam. I have read that other anti-virus software does the same thing. I am never sure why or what page triggered that request.

 

I am not worried because I have deliberately placed a cloth over my webcam for when it is not in use. And yesterday, I want to Settings > Privacy > Camera Privacy Settings and turned almost everything to off. I just left Skype and OneNote on, though I am not sure why I left OneNote on. I also left "Allow desktop apps to access your camera" to on. I did not see Edge in that list, so I am not sure if Edge is affected by those changes or not. I am thinking that, perhaps, Edge is a desktop app so it still has permission to access my camera.

 

2020-02-11_10-51-44-privacy.jpg

 

Still, I would like Edge to tell me more information about which webpages wanting to access my webcam. Even better, I would like to be prompted for permission to access my webcam and to be able to blacklist and whitelist webpages. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a webpage that I would grant access. The only times I use my webcam is when I am using Skype, so I am not sure why Edge would be prompting me.

 

Because privacy and security are important, I think this item deserves some attention. People don't want their webcam filming them without their express knowledge and consent.

9 Replies
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I am providing more information on my prior post.

 

Using Edge Beta, I did the following:

  1. Settings > Privacy and services > Clear browsing data >all time, browsing history, download history, cookies, cached images and files, site permissions, and hosted app data all checked, and cleared those items
  2.  Settings > Site permissions > Camera > Ask first before accessing (recommended) is on
  3. Closed browser
  4. Reopened browser
  5. Settings > Help and feedback > About Microsoft Edge (there is only one tab open) 

When I follow those specific steps, I get a warning from my anti-virus software that Edge is accessing my camera.

 

I have included a screenshot of what it looks like below.

 

It seems odd to me that Edge needs to access my camera when I follow those above steps. 

 

I would like Edge to prompt me before accessing my camera, as I have indicated in Step 2 above. Edge gave me no warnings.

 

Because camera access is very invasive to our privacy,  I hope that something can be done.

 

2020-02-11_21-36-45-webcam.jpg

 

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Did you try turning this off?
Settings > Site permissions > Camera > Ask first before accessing (recommended) is on
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@HotCakeX 

 

I went back and cleared cache and everything else as previously discussed.
 
I turned OFF "ask first before accessing (recommended)" and then closed the browser.
 
I then opened the Edge Beta and went to "About Microsoft Edge." 
 
Norton gave me the same warning again. I would have thought that, by turning that switch to off, Edge would no longer seek access to the camera under any circumstances. That thought appears to be wrong.
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Maybe it's a Norton problem? that's possible..
how else the About page would try to access web cam, doesn't make sense. btw Beta is not so up to date now, try Dev or Stable
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@HotCakeX 

 


@HotCakeX wrote:
Maybe it's a Norton problem? that's possible..
how else the About page would try to access web cam, doesn't make sense. btw Beta is not so up to date now, try Dev or Stable

Using the stable version, I went through the same series of steps to clear the cache and others as mentioned previously. I got camera message again using various Edge pages, including the about page. I agree that it does not make sense.

 

Regarding Norton, I certainly can't vouch for the software, so it is possible that it is Norton and not Edge. Intuitively, I would think that it should be easy to monitor for calls to the camera. And that's what Norton is picking up. Again, I am neither a Symantec nor a Microsoft developer, so all this stuff is beyond me. I just know as a user that I see warning messages that make me uncomfortable.

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@HotCakeX 

 

I noticed that the links you provided were to issues identified back in August and September of last year in 2019.

 

The solutions were to disable Windows from using the camera. And in one instance, disabling Norton from displaying the notifications. 

 

I went ahead and disabled my camera in Windows. Please see graphic below.

 

2020-02-14_10-50-17-camera.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now I have turned off the camera.

 

Using the Beta version of Edge, I cleared the cache and others for all time, as I indicated in one of the very first posts. And when I went to Edge About, there were no issues. I am using the Beta version so that I don't lose all my settings on the stable version. Both versions exhibit the same behavior of causing Norton to notify me of Edge wanting access to my camera.

 

But this solution seems to me to be using a sledge hammer to address a small problem. Why should users have to resort to such drastic measures? Even more importantly, if Edge was asking for access to users' cameras, then most users would want to know why. 

 

I have a hunch that Edge just checks to see if it can access the camera should be it required. Even so, it is disconcerting.

 

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Well if you ask me I'd say try another AV and see if it also constantly prompts for Web cam access.
if you're not sure which one to try, this channel has lots of useful stuff about it, he's a security expert, compares AVs and puts them in real life test
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGe7fZ_S788Jaspxg-_5Sg
you don't necessarily need to buy, almost all AVs offer free trials
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@HotCakeX 

 

As you and I discussed offline, there was a thread in Reddit, if I recall correctly, about another AV having issues with Edge from a year or two ago. I doubt it's Norton alone.

 

Perhaps not all AVs even monitor for access to the camera. So selecting a different AV doesn't necessarily mean that I am safer or better off. It might just mean that the AV doesn't monitor camera access. I'd like to know when something wants access to my camera. 

 

If Norton, a popular AV, is throwing up a lot of false positives, then I would hope that Microsoft would reach out to notify them. This is in some ways analogous to other companies notifying Microsoft of various issues. In the end, we are all customers. We all want the same thing: we want our computers to run properly with privacy safeguards in place.

 

Privacy is an important issue, especially when it involves your camera. 

 

For now, I know how to resolve my concerns. I just turn off access to my camera for everything. When I want to Skype someone, I will have to remember to allow access. But this solution is poor. It puts the burden on me when it shouldn't be there.