Companies listening to audio (Spying?)

Last modified on August 26, 2019

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Over the last 10 years ago exactly, I could not help myself but encourage people to question the services they're using, such as Facebook, Skype, Google Talk and even Microsoft's Xbox Kinect - as they were most likely spying on users. But now that is a clear reality, no more questioning is necessary. Skype has admitted to listening (to particular segments), Alexa has admitted (to particular segments), and so has Google Home.

Vice has relayed the daunting information to the public, except it seems not many are overly concerned about their privacy. The attitude I run across sometimes is, "I have nothing to hide, I don't care if they're spying on me." So that's exactly what happens.

Not-so-ironically, Alexa now has a feature to "delete audio" in some fashion, Google has a way to "pause web history," and Microsoft now offers a way to delete audio, but Facebook has seemingly did neither of these features except enabling users to delete messages (and now see what "info" has been collected). I remember a few years ago you could connect to Facebook's Messenger via direct XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), but not anymore--so of course you can no longer encrypt messages between parties using Off The Record plugins. One now must rely on "Facebook" to hold these messages in a private manner.

Privatize Your Communications

Without a second more to think about it, there are plenty of decentralized services out there offering unfettered communications and you have the ability to host them yourself. Jabber or "XMPP" could be the one-stop shop for a lot of DIY nerds, but so is IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

I'm not saying ditch all free and public communications, but use them wisely.

Xbox https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43kv4q/microsoft-human-contractors-listened-to-xbox-owners-homes-kinect-cortana
Skype https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/15/daily-crunch-microsoft-admits-humans-can-listen-to-skype-cortana-audio/
Alexa https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2019/04/12/amazon-staff-are-listening-to-alexa-conversations-heres-what-to-do/
Facebook https://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-listening-conversation-message-online-chat-apple-google-amazon/
Saturday August 24, 2019, SIri, https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/apple-contractors-listened-to-1000-siri-recordings-per-shift-says-former-employee-945575.html

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