Do smartphones record all the conversations?

Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the US Congress just recently sent letters to Apple and Google asking for clarification, because “actions raise questions about how Apple device users’ data is protected and when it is shared and compiled” and because “Google still permitted third parties to access the contents of users’ emails, including message text, email signatures, and receipt data, to personalize content”. (You can read these letters in full HERE and HERE.)

According to the Congressmen their largest concern is that “smartphone devices can, and in some instances, do, collect ‘non-triggered’ audio data from users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘okay Google’ or ‘hey Siri.’ It has also been suggested that third party applications have access to and use this ‘non-triggered’ data without disclosure to users”.

Another question posed in the letters is to ask for a clear insight into “how the phones collect location information at times when many people may not expect. This includes when devices are in “airplane mode” or have removed the SIM card — the small chip in cellphones that tie a phone to a particular person’s plan”.

The story itself isn’t really shocking – but a reminder that whatever ever been said or written on a device that is capable to communicate could be recorded, stored and analyzed – and that one day these conversations might become public – against the will of those people whom communicated via the devices.

Another functionality of smart devices is the ability to determine the device’s physical geolocation – and this fuctionality also could oput the Users in jeopardy, as “Apple uses tools like GPS and Bluetooth to determine a device owner’s location if a user has enabled that functionality. If it’s turned off, Apple uses ‘other techniques’ to guess an iPhone user’s whereabouts. While Google’s Android devices are already known to transmitt location information back to the company even in instances in which users had turned off that functionality”.

In other words the slogan of your everyday life should be the Miranda warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you…” For this reason it is advisable to educate yourself about what they possibly could know about you. NEW COMPENDiUM maintains and expands a handy knowledge base about the realities of what and how could be known about you. Of course the problem never was the legal and legit ways of using your data. The problem always was that your data can and will be used in an illegal ways or by the AI-driven machines in completely unknown ways.

 

 

Sources (for the site’s Sufficient Source Policy, click HERE):

https://energycommerce.house.gov/news/letter/letter-to-apple-and-alphabet-ceos-on-third-party-access-audio-and-location-data-collection/

https://energycommerce.house.gov/news/press-release/ec-leaders-press-apple-and-google-on-third-party-access-audio-and-location-data-collection/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/07/09/lawmakers-press-apple-google-explain-how-they-track-listen-users/?utm_term=.207bc81b4cf1

https://qz.com/1131515/google-collects-android-users-locations-even-when-location-services-are-disabled/