Are our phones eavesdropping on us?


Smart devices make life easier but security experts say there’s a darkside to the technology.

The short answer is pretty much everyone. That’s because while your device is listening for your command, it’s also listening to your conversations and giving that information to other applications on your phone. So it might not be a coincidence that after telling your friends you need new athletic shoes, you see an advertisement for trainers while scrolling through Instagram.

“From time to time, snippets of audio do go back to [other apps like Facebook’s] servers but there’s no official understanding what the triggers for that are,” explains Dr Peter Henway, a senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterix. Henway made the remarks in an interview last year published by Vice.

Whistleblowers from Apple , Google, and Amazon claim workers regularly listen to private conversations – like those between a doctor and patient, as well as sexual encounters, and even criminal acts.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Alex Salkever @AlexSalkever
Writer, futurist, technology leader

Sam Jadali @sam_jadali
Cybersecurity researcher

Lily Hay Newman @lilyhnewman
Security reporter, WIRED