Almost every person with a smartphone has experienced this at some point or another. You discuss a certain product and suddenly your news feeds on all your social media platforms are filled with ads for said product. Is your phone listening to you? What’s going on?
First of all, no, you’re not paranoid. Android and IOS devices (making up the bulk of the smartphone market) come pre-installed with either Google Assistant (Hey Google) or Siri. And to work on command, these apps have to be listening in order to activate the moment you utter the magic words. This means that these apps are constantly collecting data based on your discussions to target you with ads and to track your data.
Is it even legal? Yes, because we often give consent for phones to listen to us when we accept terms and conditions of software updates or app downloads. Those conditions are usually that we’ll allow our data to be collected so that we can harness all the wonders and conveniences of voice assisted programs and services.
Smartphones are equipped with an arsenal of monitoring equipment designed to absorb audio and video. They are a goldmine for advertisers, but if you’re not comfortable with targeted adds, there are ways to mitigate your smartphones’ spy power.
However, that being said, you may lose access to some handy features like wake words and voice assistants, so you’ll have to decide whether these features are worth sacrificing your privacy for.
The biggest vulnerability comes from the “always on” feature of most voice assistants. To pick up wake words like “Hey Siri,” the mic needs to remain “on” at all times – which means your phone is always listening. So yes, the best place to start to get your privacy back is by turning off the “always on” microphone features on your handset.
Smartphones are getting “smarter” and have become an integral part of our daily tasks. We are, to a large extent, paying the price of privacy for convenience.
Are you okay with that?
Source: nordvpn.com, theconversation.com, us.norton.com, foxnews.com, iol.co.za, theguardian.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.