Apps and smart devices listening to; How to block them; Protect your privacy


Apple technology companies like to say that listening to your private conversations by their digital assistant Alexa has been admitted to listening to the so-called "wake up" words.

But it's not just Syria, Alexa and thousands of Amazon employees who are eavesdropping.

According to futurist and business technologist Steve Zumpartino, "any speaker device, phone or app that can be used by talking to it, is always listening."

Scary stuff.

What devices are told?

Most smart phones, laptops, Internet connected TVs, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Facebook Portal and apps that use the microphone can listen to the outside environment. That includes whatever you can chatting about in the privacy of your own home.

"These technical companies claim that this is only for" & # 39; wake up words & # 39; which activates the device, such as & # 39; Hey Syria & # 39; or & # 39; good Google & # 39; for example, Mr. Sammartino tells

But even before the words are uttered, your conversations are recorded.

Tech companies say they are recording to improve the camera or app algorithm. But even if it's for training purposes, someone still hears.

Google and Apple have both said phones don't start recording until they detect special phrases, but that's not always the case.

"There are often other words of error in the wake of the word, and then the recording begins," Mr Sammartino explained. "Companies are not told how often this occurs or how much data they recorded."

What's more, the number of wake-up words every company uses is far off again as those we know of. If so, apps like Facebook or Instagram may have thousands of trigger phrases.

In spite of the creepy accuracy of its sidebar ads, Facebook insists it "does not use your phone to tell ads or to change what you see in the feed." But the experts are not convinced.

"In 2018 alone, Facebook has more than 50 scandals, which have contributed to the privacy of users, data and law enforcement," said Mr.

Historical, most suppliers of how our data was used were only exposed after hacking. "We have enough examples where we should be suspicious of default," he said.


We now live in what Mr Sampartino calls a world of one-way transparency.

"They encourage us to share everything and they know everything. But they hide behind algorithms and legal terms and conditions, which are also very difficult for anyone without significant legal training to understand."

Even if we can not make sense of the terms and conditions, the majority of people give "I agree" anyway. And that's part of the problem.

"The worst part of all this is that none of them is breaking the law," stressed Mr Sampartino. "In fact terms they receive our permission by stealth; by reading words and agreements no one will understand, and few would understand, even if they did. Privacy is moving fast from a civilian right to an illusion."

And as technology is inviting, sales are increasing.

Smart speaker sales are predicted to grow by more than 60 percent this year, as thousands of consumers pay to become microphones for the tech giants they make.

Experts like Mr. Sammartino are calling for more than transparency. The message is: don't just tell us what you have, tell us how the information will be used – by your company or others.

"Even if you sign up to just one company's words, then they can sell the data to others. How far your data can spread is truly unlimited."

How to protect your privacy

Mr Sammartino says it's safe to assume everything we do on the Internet is tracked and stored without our permission.

"Remember, the default position of technology is that they'll automatically" off "you to give them all your data unless you specially change the settings to" & # 39; opt out, & # 39; " He said.

"Never climbs to other websites using your social media logins like Google or Facebook – this means you'll be right around the web," he warned.

"If the device has a microphone and it is connected to the Internet, you can be sure to hear it."

Fortunately, most of the devices can be disconnected from the mic.


Apps: Go to Settings> Privacy> Microphone and turn off access to any app that requested the use of your microphone.

Siri: Go to Settings> Syria & Search To turn off the functions for "Hey Syria", "Press Side Button for Syria" and "Leave Siri When Locked".


Apps: The process will vary according to the manufacturer. Try looking at app permissions on the apps & notifications screen. And again, turn off any microphone access that you don't want to record.

Google: Go to Settings> Google> Search & Now> Voice Off the "Good Google" Feature.


To hear and possibly delete Alexa requests (which are also recorded), pull up the Alexa app and go to settings> History. Amazon warns you that your Alexey experience may not be as seamless as the recordings, as they are used to improve today's responses.

Alternatively, you can turn off the microphone on the device itself until you are ready to make the request.


To delete records from your Google home requests, log in to your Google account, click on your profile picture and then go to Manage accounts> Google Activity Controls> Manage Activity.

Again, you can destroy the microphone on the device itself by switching the on / off switch.

The above should cover your privacy bases. But if in doubt, consider this a mild reminder: you can always pull the plug.

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