In the last decade, big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have launched internet-connected devices designed to simplify our lives. These devices and the services they provide not only streamline practically everything we do, they help us stay connected, informed, and entertained.
While George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 warned us of a dystopian future where surveillance and spying by "Big Brother" was rampant, Orwell probably never imagined that we would invite Big Brother into our homes! But the present day reality is that these devices - Amazon’s Alexa products, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri-enabled products - are monitoring, recording, and listening to your daily activity, even when you’re not using them.
Amazon, Apple, and Google are literally spying on you. That is how the tech companies analyze the responses of their “virtual assistants” to help improve their services. The concern is that they are amassing all this personal data and listening in on conversations, in many cases without the users’ knowledge or awareness.
With knowledge of this invasion in privacy becoming more widespread, the big three are making changes to their privacy settings that allow their users to opt-out of third party access to messages recorded by Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.
Currently, Apple has suspended their reviews of recordings pending an internal review and the company is planning on launching new privacy settings that will allow users to prevent others from listening to their Siri voice recordings.
As for Amazon and Google, both companies have already initiated new privacy settings that allow you to do the same.
Step 1: Open the Amazon Alexa app for Android or iOS
Step 2: Select Menu > Settings > Alexa Privacy
Step 3: Tap “Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa”
Step 4: Turn off the toggle next to “Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features”
Step 1: Open the Google Home app
Step 2: Select Account > More settings (under Google Assistant) > Your data in the Assistant > Voice & Audio Activity.
Step 3: Turn off the toggle next to “Voice & Audio Activity”
As convenient as the Internet and these devices that are powered by it are, that convenience comes at a price - your privacy. There are some important steps you can take to reduce your data footprint and protect your online privacy.
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