- Mobile phones, tablets, computers, surveillance cameras and televisions are some of the devices that listen to conversations and collect information.
- Mobile phones could stop listening to our conversations thanks to this technology.
Today, users are still surprised when they talk about a specific product, enter an application or web page and related advertising appears on the mobile or tablet they had searched for. It seems that any device listens to our conversations so that later they show us certain ads, right?
Given this situation, most people think that phones, computers, voice assistants, tablets, apps and televisions spy on us on a daily basis. Therefore, having any device at home means that our privacy can be invaded.
What devices can spy on us
Mobile phones have microphones so that applications can use voice recognition techniques thanks to artificial intelligence.
Voice assistants are activated when they hear the ‘formula’ that meets the needs of users. An example, the Google assistant turns on when it hears ‘Ok Google’, therefore at any time it has to be active to respond instantly
Does this mean that they are listening to us continuously? Google confirmed to Cadena SER that “the microphones are always on, but they only listen to the keyword ‘Ok Google’”.
On the other hand, when a request is made to Siri , the device generates a code to contact external servers, therefore, Apple does not know which user has made the query.
Online security cameras allow you to monitor your home, children and even pets, but if any user can view the recording, there is a chance that a hacker could get hold of the media file.
Televisions with streaming services have voice – activated controls for searching videos, meaning that there are certain fragments of conversations that can be listened to without our consent.
Why do they spy on us and what information do they get?
Companies collect information through Big Data techniques to offer us personalized advertising .
Sergio de los Santos (director of the Innovation and Laboratory area of Eleven Paths, Telefónica’s cybersecurity unit) states for El País that “we have sold our soul to large companies such as Google, Facebook or Amazon, who know what we are looking for, where where we are physically, what we buy, what we see or the keywords of our emails”.
When a voice command is made, the device has the possibility to record it with the help of artificial intelligence to create patterns. The information they obtain are conversations, passwords, the daily activity of each one and personal data, among others.
What do they then do with that information?
The data is used to know the tastes of consumers , in this way, personalized ads are offered despite the fact that there are certain dangers.
The main risks are the way of influencing each other’s decisions, showing fake news , the ability to manipulate those affected and the power to blackmail or divulge information.
Commands can be stored indefinitely, and companies use the data to deliver experiences or ads.
Tips to avoid being spied on
- Check the permissions you grant to each device. You should be careful about access to the microphone and camera.
- Review the applications you have installed to avoid suspicion or unwanted.
- If the device is with a high temperature or consumes a lot of battery, espionage is likely to occur.
Antivirus is recommended .
- There are programs that ensure your security, such as Protonmail email, CryptPad office automation, the Tor browser or the DuckDuck Go search engine.
- Update device software to minimize vulnerabilities.
- Do not access public networks, use VPNs to access the Internet.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.