Does Google listen to us? To what extent should we be afraid?

Do you remember one day telling your friend about a new product you wanted to buy and later got it in the form of an ad on your smartphone? Or you felt sick and got an ad for a hospital near you on the phone screen. It’s not magic or sorcery, it’s technology, my darling.

If you have doubts about your smartphone, and if it listens to what you say, rest assured .. you are not alone! 😉

No one argues that the advanced technology we use every day is made for a purpose, and the phone in your hand is not just a means of communication, it’s so much more, it’s a salesperson, a tax advisor, providing house cleaning services , and can find your partner if you want. However, these services are not free.

And if you thought you did not pay for the appearance of these ads, do not worry, you should think again, because you paid before this ad appeared, not with your money .. but with your data ! 😮

Do our phones listen to what we say?

Google denies that it listens to what smartphone carriers say, or that it collects information about them in this way, noting that it only listens when you use certain Google words, such as “Oky Google” used to wake up the personal assistant make.

The company also says that it requires software developers and applications in its store to comply with the developer’s policy not to infringe on users’ privacy by using surveys held by the personal assistant. (Source)

In terms of communication applications, Facebook has also indicated that it prevents advertisers from using personal data collected by the microphone for advertising, but we’ll get to that later, because users’ personal experiences say otherwise!

To go back a bit, in 2019, 1,000 audio recordings collected via the “Google Assistant” were leaked to a Belgian news website, which contained information about phone owners, such as addresses and other information, that was enough to to find and feed the owners. of the recordings!

Google responded to the leaks at the time that it was not linked to user accounts, but one of them told the news site I was brushing my teeth and reading an article about a movie to get me an ad for to show “toothpaste”. is it a coincidence? No one knows for sure. (Source)

The Belgian website, which received the leaks, said it had listened to it in full, including 153 sensitive recordings that were not associated with the words that the assistant woke up, and did not hear the word “Ok Google”, but indicated that the artificial intelligence seemed to have heard similar words and deemed it sufficient to begin the recording.

The sensitive surveys included bedroom conversations, conversations between parents and their children, family disputes and phone calls with sensitive and very private information.

The website says one of the explanations is also the push of one of the buttons that accidentally wakes up the “Google Assistant”.

Google explained that the leaked recordings are part of the company’s dealings with linguists around the world to improve “speech” technologies by copying a very small number of audio files to develop products that support Google Assistant, but stressed that the leaked recordings are not linked to any personal information. (Source)

personal experiences

And the British Broadcasting Corporation quoted some people from surprising experiences, from a woman complaining to her friend about her migraine headaches, to finding an ad the next day for groups to support patients with migraines.

Another one had a conversation with her sister about a tax problem, only to get an ad on Facebook the next day from tax experts giving advice!

In more awkward conversations, one said he was shown ads for sanitary napkins, but what’s the connection? … He and his wife talked on a car ride about her menstrual periods.

And the communication sites, especially Reddit, are full of such stories that can only leave you stunned, even though the companies deny that they use these surveys to serve advertisers, which is a good coincidence! (Source)

But technology expert Kristen Cooley says one possible explanation for such “coincidences” is that our phones’ privacy settings may be to some extent responsible.

And Coley goes on to sync the personal files associated with our previously browsed, or emailed, phones, which are collected to target ads, and the solution here is to get the permissions check what your device is up to in different applications, and make sure you have not given them permission to access your microphone. (Source)

How does Google benefit from our surveys?

Speech recognition software works by dividing the sound of a speech recording into individual syllables, analyzing each syllable and using algorithms to find the word that most likely matches that syllable and convert it into written text.

Speech recognition technologies use complex software and a neural network capable of learning (artificial intelligence), allowing the program to make decisions based on speech patterns, programming, and hypotheses about “what did the user say?”, And after uttering the words identified, he was probably saying and converting it into text.

If you think the process is simple, you should know that it is a very complicated process, but it takes place at lightning speed and with an accuracy that may match the accuracy of the human ear to recognize words. (Source)

Speech-to-text conversion techniques are no longer difficult, you can easily try them on your phone, and also in multiple languages ​​you can simply open the Google Translate application on your phone and press the microphone icon instead of typing texts and you will notice that your words will turn into texts in no time.

Google provides software developers with their full experience in this field.

Google describes its related products as of advanced accuracy, and works on the most advanced artificial intelligence algorithms capable of learning, enabling automatic speech recognition and speech-to-text conversion, managing these texts flexibly and use multiple applications .. Does not make you feel intimidated ?!

What do we agree on when we use Google?

In its privacy statement, Google states that in some cases it does share your private information, with your consent, such as “external processing”; The Company hereby provides personal information to its affiliated partners or other trusted organizations or persons for processing on its behalf, based on Company instructions and in accordance with the Privacy Policy and any other applicable confidentiality and security measures.

For example, it uses service providers to operate data centers, deliver its products and services, improve its internal business processes, and provide more support to its customers and users of its products.

It also uses service providers to help review video content on YouTube for public safety and to analyze and listen to examples of users’ stored audio clips to help improve Google’s voice recognition technology.

The company says it may share non-personally identifiable information with everyone and its partners, such as publishers, advertisers, developers or rights holders. For example, it shares information with the public to display indications about the general use of its services.

It also allows selected partners to collect information from your browser or device for advertising and measurement purposes using “cookies” or “similar technologies”, and the company does not mention “audio clips” here. (Source)

If you are not Google, who is it ?!

To prove the theory of listening to users, cyber security expert Ken Munro and his colleague David Lodge have developed a sample application that requests access to the microphone, using features and codes that run Google’s Android, because it’s the easiest .

As a result, everything talked about with the phone using the application arrived on Monroe and Lodge’s computer in the form of plain text on which they could build and send personalized ads to users.

The experiment took only a few days to build the application, converting speech to text, and while not perfect, it was enough to identify the most important keywords in conversations.

Closure

Yes, Google can listen to your phone no matter how much information you access, but denies using “audio clips” or monetizing it for ads or sharing it with others.

But it does not deny that other applications can do it. If you are scared, we can show you the way to stop recording your voice, but you have to sacrifice some of the features offered by some applications that requires access to the microphone. to serve their purpose.

How to stop Google Assistant from listening to you on Android devices:



1- Go to Settings
2- Go to “Google”
Search for “Voice Match”
4- In the “Hey Google” option, disable it

How to stop Google from listening to you on Android devices:



1- Go to Settings
2- Go to “Applications”
3- Scroll down to “Google”
4- Click on it and go to “Permissions”
5- Scroll down to “Microphone”
6- Click “Weather”


You can also apply the second method with any application you suspect has access to the microphone and misuses it.

And if the above methods do not address your concern about your privacy being violated, our advice to you is to abandon your smartphone altogether and have a secure “stupid” phone.

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