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Google home devices listing in on you without permission, by third party contractors.

DeChamp
Just a coder and a dad. I love my family and I love to code!!!! started coding at 11, so I have 25 years under my belt. Still love learning about it every day. Black lives matter!
・1 min read

We’ve all been paranoid that our devices were listening to us when they shouldn’t be.

But we surely didn’t think it was by 3rd party contractors. We may trust big companies like Google, Apple and Amazon to handle our personal data but no way would you trust your data with a 3rd party contractor you don’t even know.

No one can prove what the 3rd party contractors are really doing with our data. On the google handshake they could look legit and google would never know but on the back side they would be selling off our info.

What’s your thoughts on this. Check out the article and make a comment.

https://thenextweb.com/google/2019/07/10/google-contractors-are-secretly-listening-to-your-assistant-recordings/

Discussion (16)

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

I had already assumed it was happening, and if it wasn't that it was a matter of time.

The thing is you can never trust what companies are doing now or what they promise to do in the future. If you really want know what they will do, examine the incentives. It is pretty inevitable that human nature will eventually follow strong incentives, even when they should not be followed. An organization might have a strong compass today, but leaders come and go. Eventually someone will be in charge of the project who can't ignore that extra buck floating out there.

If we really value privacy and security of our tech, we have to change the incentives of the situation. To me, that means we stop accepting the value proposition of letting our personal data be mined as payment for services. The incentives of that situation are ripe for so many kinds of abuse.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

yup, that is a great point.

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dianacoman profile image
Diana Coman

Why would you trust Google, Apple, Amazon more/different than a "3rd party" contractor? Not like you can actually know them anymore than you know that 3rd party really. And note that it's obviously in their interest to "listen on" - so of course they will. Either you own your device - which means you know how to turn it on/off/into anything you want or...the device (its producer) owns you, it's as simple as that.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

it's not that I trust them more than a 3rd party, "jim bobs data service" is not going to have the same amount of eyes on it, than google, apple, or amazon. I mentioned on a comment below, for me personally it's not trust per-say. It's that I am wiling to chance my data with them for their services.

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dianacoman profile image
Diana Coman

I don't see what is this difference you are making between "trusting" and "chancing" your data with them - from where I'm sitting, trusting is precisely that, namely you are willing to chance your data with them [because you trust them].

The part with "more eyes on them" really sounds like a delegation of responsibility to the group and that tends to end up in tears almost always - the "too big to fail" and the "the others did it too" and so on. Basically the "more eyes on them" never works since everyone assumes sooner or later - naturally and unavoidably since it's the most cost-effective strategy - that all the other eyes are watching so that they can...chance it.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

Fair enough. To to be clear, I know for a fact that no one's data is secure online. Period. The best security can still be out smarted. It's been proven. I use companies that I like and I chance my data with them. I do not trust them. It's like gambling. I don't spend my $100 bucks because I trust that I will get more back, but I take a chance because it's fun to play. In this scenario, I swap out "fun" with "it helps me in my daily life". I don't assume my data is safe online nor trust them. I can chance my life skydiving for the thrill of adventure, doesn't mean I trust I'll survive.

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dianacoman profile image
Diana Coman

Sure, there is no "secure data" online, I fully agree there. Following the gambling analogy, any surprise at "listening on you without permission" is similar to being surprise that the house always wins in the long-term.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

ha ha that is a good way to put it "house always wins". It's like the "Antitrust" movie.

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flrnd profile image
Florian Rand • Edited

It's quite intriguing, actually.

The report did say the company tries to anonymize the recordings before sending them to contractors, identifying them by numbers rather than user names. But again, VRT was able to pick up enough data from the recordings to find the addresses of the users in question, and even confront some of the users in the recordings – to their great dismay.

EDIT: Giving a second thought, I find hard to believe that Google, or Amazon, with some of the smartest people in the world never thought that this could actually happen. Really?

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author • Edited

it's not about being smart. I've worked for enough companies to know it's about being rushed. Every company i've ever worked for has a high traffic deadline. But even if given all the time in the world, bad choices in regards to security are going to be made. We are human so we make mistakes. This however does not feel like a mistake, it feels like a poor choice of consumer privacy.

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awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

I don't understand the attraction with digital assistants. Anything I could do with an Alexa, I can already do from my phone.

Maybe from a disability perspective, they're a good thing, but I just think they're unnecessary luxuries for everyone else.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

we use it to play music and turn on/off the lamp in our living room. That is it lol. But phones are not always around, and i've never really had good luck with siri picking up from father than a few feet away. I guess to each their own

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awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

My brother uses it for those exact same things haha

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

ha ha, great minds think alike.

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dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

I agree. I don't trust anything I put online. But it's more of a "I understand what ever I do with this company, could lead to leak of personal data but I'll allow it so I can use their service...."