The gargantuan corporations of the tech world have been increasingly under fire in recent months for their blatant lack of respect for their customers’ privacy and sovereignty.
Often we find ourselves worrying about social media organizations such as Facebook when we discuss these Big Brother-like infractions. Mark Zuckerberg’s entire social empire is built on the idea that Facebook is amassing enormous caches of data from their constantly-changing algorithms, and then selling this data to advertisers who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it. Simply put: Facebook is an advertising monopoly in and of itself, with a treasure trove of personal preference information to be sold at exorbitant costs to whomever can pony up the cash.
Google hasn’t been completely innocent in this realm either, as experts are now warning that the internet behemoth could be using its Android smartphones to record Americans’ conversations.
“If you own an Android phone, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s Assistant, which is similar to Apple’s Siri.
“Google says it only turns on and begins recording when you utter the words ‘OK Google’.
“But a Sun investigation has found that the virtual assistant is a little hard of hearing.
“In some cases, just saying ‘OK’ in conversation prompted it to switch on your phone and record around 20 seconds of audio.
“It regularly switches on the microphone as you go about your day-to-day activities, none the wiser.
“Once Google is done recording, it uploads the audio files to its computer servers – often dubbed ‘the cloud’.
“These files are accessible from absolutely anywhere in the world – as long as you have an internet connection.
“That means any device that is signed into your personal Gmail or Google account can access the library of your deepest, darkest secrets.”
The ramifications of this revelation are terrifying, especially given the propensity of hackers to stay ahead of the cyber security curve.
Worse yet, Google has been working diligently to become an essential piece of modern day American life, with connectivity between your Google account and other internet services becoming far more prevalent. Soon, we will come to see Google as a utility rather than a tool, and by then it may be too late for many of us to retain our online anonymity or our vitally important information private.
These concerns are far beyond mere annoyances as well. Should the government successfully subpoena these records from Google, a precedent would be created that could absolutely shatter what is left of the 4th Amendment.