Is Your Technology Spying On You?

Are you one of those people who always puts a piece of tape over the camera on your laptop? Do you turn your phone off because you think someone is always listening to you??  They might be....

Amazon has applied for a patent on something it calls a "voice sniffer algorithm," which might -- in another time -- be called "big brother." The idea is for devices like Alexa and tablets to eavesdrop on users' conversations and promote advertising based on keywords it hears. Google is working on similar applications, but both companies claim their devices have to be set to stream audio to the cloud, so presumably consumers should be aware, and in control of, when their words are being monitored.

According to a statement issued by Amazon, the company does “not use customers’ voice recordings for targeted advertising.” However, the patent application -- according to an article in the New York Times -- illustrates "how a phone call between two friends could result in one receiving an offer for the San Diego Zoo and the other seeing an ad for a Wine of the Month Club membership."

Because the keywords can be anything, other possible uses are baby monitors and adolescent suicide prevention.

David Fisch

David Fisch

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