Please Machine, Do Not I Listen to Both

We have developed in victims of our devices. Many of them we spy. They record everything we do and send that data – anonymously, say the manufacturers–to remote servers over which we have no control. Smart TVs were the last sound the voices of alarm, but in reality are just one example of the monitoring to which we are exposed.

And it is that today the technological proposals from manufacturers tend to include all sorts of mechanisms to record how we use certain products and services. All in pursuit of a better user experience, we are told, but the truth is that the amount of data that is collected is a reef for many companies. The machines are listening to us, and make it more and more.

Orwell would be proud… and terrified

The director of the CIA was already aimed at the future that awaited us in 2012. David Petraeus participated in an event in which already There was talk about the Internet of things and in which it pointed to the implications in terms of privacy. “Objects of interest may be located, identified, monitored and controlled remotely”, he explained, and added that this range of solutions, many of which will be in our home, “change our notions of identity and secrets”.

That the search engine of Google or its Gmail email service monitor the use we make of them is already an accepted reality, which here would enter in that eternal debate in which if you are not paying for the product, the product you are. But it is these machines that listen to us to demonstrate precisely that even paying for the product, remain. It’s amazing.

Some smart TVs voice recognition is a good example of how our world works today. In February 2015 we knew as Samsung Smart TVs that had enabled voice recognition us spying. What we said not only served to change the channel or turn up the volume: out of our showroom to be potentially analyzed in the future. It was, said Bruce Schneier security expert, literally Orwellian.

Left: Samsung SmartTV privacy policy, warning users not to discuss personal info in front of their TV Right: 1984 pic.twitter.com/osywjYKV3W

— Parker Higgins (@xor) February 8, 2015

As stated this renowned researcher, “the discovery surprised people, but should not have done. The things that surround us are becoming more computerized and increasingly connected to the Internet. And most of them are listening.” It happens for example with our smartphones or computers, whose microphones are used so we contact other people, but which can also be remotely activated unless we learn.

The things that surround us are becoming more computerized and increasingly connected to the Internet. And most of them are listening.

We can even have chosen to give permission in certain scenarios, such as with the Mobile Facebook app that more than one year ago allowed “discover new music, television programs and movies” but that doing so also we warned that the social networking giant would have access to our microphone unless we deshabilitásemos this option in these privacy options that not everyone knows how to use.

Samsung is not the only one that includes this type of “property” in its smart TV, and it is shown that other companies also make the same. We already checked to study the privacy policy of LG televisions, and there are other manufacturers such as Sony whose Smart TV also recorded all changes channel held.

Consoles and Home Automation also frighten (a little)

Kinect It is another device that also has the ability to record more than it seems. Renovated peripherals the Xbox One – which is no longer included as standard with every console – boasts a high definition capable camera even estimate – measure would be going a little far–heart rate based on aspects such as the color of the skin.

The own Microsoft had to turn back when it comes to make mandatory the use of Kinect to use the console, and suspicions that generated that possible espionage activity responsible for Redmond forced to give explanations.

Phil Harrison, one of the heads of division, wanted to deny any suspected and claimed that “we are not using Kinect to spy on anyone in any case”, and at Microsoft say that although for example voice orders make use of the servers of the signature recognition system, that data was “anonymised” and at any time we will be able to stop the activity of Kinect , something that became clear in the FAQ on privacy of Kinect. At the same time it was learned about the scandal of the monitoring of Skype calls, which made this another section of Kinect be also sensitive for the signature.

The single inclusion of that small note implies that Amazon Echo effectively always is listening and has the ability to transmit the audio to the cloud

Most recent is the case of Amazon Echo, the device that the e-commerce giant already sold in the United States and making use of your own voice, Alexa Assistant. In the frequently asked questions about the Echo the manufacturer indicates that although you hear at all times, only fires when you use the phrase that wake it up. That’s when I miss “makes streaming audio to the cloud, including a fraction of a second of the audio before you woke him up with the keyword”, but the single inclusion of that small note implies that Amazon Echo effectively always is listening and has the ability to transmit the audio to the cloud. That Yes, this device users can view, qualify, or delete any of the audio recordings that are registered on the device. Not only that: there is a physical switch that deactivates the microphone of the device.

The popular Navigation with Waze traffic information service It is another who have lately proved to be suspiciously disturbing in that management of information gathering. Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher, conducted a study on the privacy policy of the service and detected that Waze creates a unique identifier for each user and creates a profile with his activity at the wheel, including also other much less associated data to serve as the phone numbers of the agendas of its users.

The same suspicions now hover over other type of technological systems in the car. Increasingly more connected and increasingly powerful in the inclusion of tools such as voice recognition, services such as Ford Sync or BMW iDrive increasingly include more choices but also more collection of data that the user probably does not know where go. All these systems “Infotainment” joins les soon the developments of Google and Apple, to put their voice in front of experience Assistant.

The potential to record and transmit conversations of children is worrying in the new Hello Barbie

The latest disturbing capabilities in this regard is neither more nor less than the Barbie, that he now wants to become an interactive doll. In Mattel have created the call”Hello Barbie”, a version of this doll that connects to WiFi networks and is capable of recording orders of voice of children playing with it to even transmit them face – as always – to improve speech recognition.” The manufacturer insists that the privacy and safety of children has been the priority in this doll, but already there are campaigns that try to do this play not is marketed, since the potential to record and transmit conversations of children is worrying.

Siri, Cortana and Google Now, listening

As we said before the voice Assistant These companies soon will be part of other scenarios, but where have gained prominence in our smartphones. Both Google as Apple and Microsoft – and are not the only ones – have struggled to provide a few developments that facilitate interaction with the devices easily by voice.

The problem is that since all these services have access to the microphone of our devices, capacity to enable it to collect our voice or sounds that surround us unless we learn It is obvious. Although companies have privacy policies that leave clear that data are anonymous and that are used to improve these services, the option exists.

Another category that will clearly be affected by this fever for the collection of data from voice is smart watches

In recent years we have known as the NSA and the CIA could apparently access to any portable or mobile device including those manufactured by Apple, which shows that our smartphones are perfect candidates for not realizing someone listen to what we say… and not necessarily in a call telephone.

Personal assistants are great options when it comes to interact with certain devices. Solutions such as Amazon Echo and other proposed home automation in which the voice control is the protagonist are also likely to be subjected to this debate, but another category that will clearly be affected by this fever for the collection of data from voice is smart clocks, which also include microphones and voice Assistant to respond to various commands.

The question is whether they will collect everything else but not act… what will they do with all that information.

Many other devices and services will also use that kind of interaction, and a good example is that doll Barbie which we spoke recently or the small and already-not-so-small robots -a few days ago spoke of Pepper – they will also be able to interact with us with their natural learning and artificial intelligence systems and that they will certainly collect everything say to act accordingly.

The question is If they will collect everything else even if they do not act… and what will they do with all that information. One can not give too much importance to the issue, of course. Maybe that novels and science fiction movies have become a little paranoid. But taking into account things such as massive NSA monitoring programs – an example with descriptive name is BADASS – and that greed of data that appear to have some of the large, I would say that we should take at least some precautions when using these solutions. For if the flies.

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