privacy is dead

Privacy is dead and dying more each day…

#10 | Amazon reported that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold as of this writing. That’s great for Amazon but for you, maybe not so much. If you are concerned about your privacy then, its not good for you to have Alexa (and devices like it) in your home because it is almost always listening and recording everything going on. Doubt me? Tune in to this episode to learn why you should be concerned about Alexa and even more concerned about what Google has planned for your home. Its scary.   | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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 PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Happy New Year! I hope 2019 brings you every positive thing you hope for and more. I also hope it brings you more privacy. A recent report from Reuters cites how a user of Amazon’s Alexa got access to a thousand recordings from another user because of a [quote] “human error” by the company. [end quote] Among the recordings, a man and a female companion could be… overheard and due to the data that was accidentally released, the man and woman on the recordings were able to be identified and contacted.

When I read that story, my immediate reaction was why where there so many recordings available to be found in the first place? And if they were revealed by human error, how many more recordings are out there and for what purpose are they being saved? I’ll give you the answer and give you something more to worry about, after this message.

To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it’s likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing…Facebook executives want everyone to be public. As the service evolves, executives tend to favor our open access to information, meaning information you think is private will slowly become public, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be private if you want to. Facebook gives its users the option to lock things down, but users need to be aware of their controls, how to use them and how to prepare for future Facebook privacy changes. Facebook has not and will not make information obvious, and that’s where my special offer comes in. Go to JimStroud.com/free and download “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” That’s JimStroud.com/free to download your free copy of “The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Manual.” One last time, download it now at JimStroud.com/free Operators are standing by.

For Alexa and Google Home to work, they have to listen out for specific “wake words.” In the case of Google Home, its “OK Google” and for Alexa, its “Alexa.” So, of course, they have to listen constantly in order to be of service. As far as all those recorded messages that Alexa tracks, Amazon uses it to educate its artificial intelligence systems so that they will better understand us humans when we make our requests. Google does the same thing with Google Home. If you are uncomfortable with listening devices perpetually recording your daily life, you will be very disturbed by what I am about to share with you now.

Google has recently filed two patents that will make it extremely easy for them to eavesdrop on your home activity, surveil your way of life and generate a TON of money by selling that data to third-parties. How? Well, let’s explore the possibilities with patent #1 entitled – “Privacy-aware personalized content for the smart home”

Imagine this, a Google device scans and analyzes the objects in your home and then offers you content based on what it finds. For example, a smart camera could recognize Will Smith’s face on a T-shirt on the floor of your closet. It then looks at your browser history and detects that you follow Will Smith’s YouTube channel and watched some of his videos recently. After analyzing all that, the system would say to you, “Hey, you seem to life Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you. Would you like the show times?”

Now, let’s look even deeper into this patent. Using object recognition, Google could calculate your “fashion taste” by scanning your clothing, and even estimate your income based on any “expensive mechanical and/or electronic devices” it detects. Once it gets used to voices typically in your home, it could determine the genders and age of the people who live with you. From all that data, the Google device could recommend what to watch on TV, what movies to see and where to shop, not only for you but for every person who lives in your house. Wow. How about that?

Let’s switch gears a bit and look now at patent #2, which has a long, but ominous title to it, “Smart Home Automation System that suggests or automatically implements selected household policies based on sensed observations.”

The second patent proposes a smart-home system that will help raise your kids for you (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Parents could program a device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan internet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if the children are grounded.

Language from both patents reveals just how intuitive these smart devices are, as they listen to the noises you make as you move around your house. For example, Google’s smart-home system can figure out “if a household member is working” from the sound of a keyboard clicking, a desk chair moving, and papers shuffling in the room. Google can also figure out the mood you’re in based on the sound of your voice. It can tell when you’re in the kitchen based on the sound of the refrigerator door opening. It can even estimate your dental hygiene based on “the sounds and/or images of teeth brushing.” Wow. Again, I say, wow.

Alexa, Google Home and Facebook’s new “Portal” device (which is a video phone that follows you around the room) all those things are great and a convenience for what they do; but, is the convenience of these devices worth what we are losing in terms of privacy? It seems like every other day I hear how hackers have stolen data from millions of users. It makes me wonder how much, if at all, I can trust big tech companies to keep my information private. If my web data is not secure, why would I want to make even more intimate data accessible via smart devices like Alexa or these new patented inventions that Google just filed? And, I know I’m not the only one to feel this way which is why, I’m going to make a prediction. In 2019, people will begin choosing privacy over convenience by choosing to buy gadgets that do not connect to the internet; which is not much of a prediction because its already happening in the mobile phone market.

In August 2018, it was reported by Daily Mail that while global sales of smartphones increased by just 2 percent however, sales of ‘dumb phones’ rose by 5 percent. Dumb phones are just what you expect them to be, devices that can only send and receive phonecalls (and in some cases, send and receive text messages). You can buy one for $20, which is what the Alcatel 10.66G retails for or you can go high-end and spend $400 for a Light Phone 2.

In the age of big tech, privacy is dead. I think we forget that because we are so addicted to technology. I think I’m going to remind us every now and then with special podcast episodes like this one. Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

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