Published On: Mon, Aug 12th, 2019

Everyone is Talking, Siri is Listening

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I was listening to a discussion between some jockeys on our local radio station a few mornings ago. This discussion got me thinking. Could our smart devices be listening to us all the time?

I was always astonished by the “co-incidence” of seeing pop up adverts on my social networks that are in close relation to a discussion I have had. I put it down to my absent-mindedness, “I probably Googled this topic and forgot” was my usual thought. However, after the discussion on the radio, the wooden cogs in my head started turning, and I had to investigate it.

Initially, Apple completely denied that their smart devices were listening, flat out rejected this. But now they have admitted they do with the reason of making your Siri experience better. Apple claims, she is always listening so she can better understand her owner. I am calling balderdash!

Our smart devices wake to commands such as “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” whenever we utter them, but how can they respond if they haven’t been “listening”? Manufacturers of smartphones claim without these triggers your inputs are safe within your device

Are the techno giants allowed to listen to us?

Yes, sadly they are, and because you allowed them to. Every app you download without reading the terms and conditions? Those are the apps that invade your privacy, and you let it. Think about the significant outcry not so long ago about FaceApp saving your photos to their servers; you allowed that. The manufacturers can, and will, track your voice because you signed end-user agreements with Apple or Google Account.

This all sounds scary, but when you think about it, all that these companies are after is an active marketing channel. They do not want to bore or annoy you with adverts that will not appeal to people in your demographic. However, in my opinion, it is still rude, if done without permission, which they have, from you. Let it sink in.

Here is how to turn off your phone’s “ears”:

For iPhones disable “Hey Siri”. When Apple developed the iOS 8, it unveiled it is wake up trigger phrase, “Hey Siri” to interact with her without touching your phone. The quickest way to turn it off is as follows: Settings – General – Siri and then flip the toggle switch “Hey Siri” to off.

For Android devices disable “OK Google”. Google is aiming for technology activated by voice. They recently unveiled their trigger phrase “OK Google”. Every time you use this phrase, your interaction is recorded and saved to your Google account. I still find this scary. This is how to turn it off: Settings – Google – Search and Now – voice and then turn off “OK Google” detection. So, be very careful what you say, you never know who might be listening.

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