Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

W WebWorks by Terry Young
Are your smart devices spying on you?



ARE YOUR SMART DEVICES SPYING ON YOU?

    So many of us are now surrounded by smart devices, which while making our lives generally easier, can pose personal security issues.


There are so many voice activated smart devices all around us on a daily basis; from our smart phones and even watches to devices like Alexa and Google Home personal assistants, and on to items like televisions and home security cameras.
   
This growing convenience can also lead to a growing loss of privacy, as these smart devices silently collect and share data with the manufacturer and their affiliates.
   
This phenomenon has become increasingly obvious with many people reporting having a conversation about something while their phone is nearby, only to then find ads for that exact thing on websites or social media feed.
   
Conversations around Alexa and Google devices have resulted in products showing up in Amazon recommendations or search results.
   
The concerning thing about these incidents is that the device seems to collect data without any kind of alert; the device screen or I'm listening light circle doesn't light up, letting the people know that it is paying attention.
   
Most people, when they buy these devices, are not aware that they are giving permission for these things to happen when they skim over, or don't even read, the terms and conditions in their eagerness to get the device up and running.
   
The worst devices are the ones with a microphone but not a screen display, such as Amazon and Google assistants; these devices don't have easily accessible terms of service to read and check, they are hidden away on the parent company's website.
   
Unfortunately, by their definitions, smart devices have to be always listening, waiting for the magic words to wake them up and put them to work. 
   
You can override this by pressing the mute button on the device,  or turning that feature off completely on a phone, but that sort of defeats the object of the device. 
   
If you ever do say something that you don't want saved, you can tell Alexa to "delete what I just said", or tell Google to "delete my last conversation."
You can manage how Amazon uses your data in the Alexa app by going to Settings | Alexa Privacy and toggling "help improve Amazon services" and "use messages to improve transcriptions" to off.
   
For Google Assistant users, open the Home app and go to Settings | More Settings | Your Data and pause collection of any more voice recordings.



Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,
his computer programming and graphic design knowledge have kept his company
at the forefront of the latest technology in web development.