Privacy On Your Android Devices? Think Again!!
So you have a smartphone probably an Android device, cool I do too. An Android device is lovely, lots and loads of goodies. I also love everything from Google, sometimes i just visit the Play Store to scout for apps and if I see anything from Google am gonna test drive it for sure, that was how i found Google Keep; lovely note taking app…. I love it, never lose an important note, it’s in the cloud, you still get your info even if you lose your phone, you should try it.
Oh…wait i was talking about Privacy, yeah Google has an app called “Google” that allows you to make searches using your voice and you can set it up to use the hotword “OK Google” so it can listen even if you are on a different app and still do your bidding, now thats an awesome technology similar to the almighty Siri on iOS and Cortana on our friend ‘Windows’.
It does a lot more, you could use it to do searches, send SMS, call a friend, type an email message, get directions, surf the internet, it can even tell you where you are, personally i use it for alarms, since I can’t seem to get understand my alarm app, so i bark out a command like this “OK Google wake me up in 2 hours” and it works like charm, it’s awesome.
Now that we have a glimpse of its awesomeness, let’s consider its murky parts:
Google announced they will be recording whatever you search for using this feature…what the hell? It’s true and this is not some conspiracy BS, this is what Google has to say about it:
This is not breaking news, they have been recording for about a year now, so if you use this feature you might wanna visit the above link to remove audio clips of searched phrases you are not so proud of…good luck with that!
Google also has an explanation of its Pros: Whys and benefits of recording your voice and gives you the option of deleting, which is nice, if you ask me.
Now I will go over the Cons:
I don’t want audio clips of my voice stored at all, it’s too risky. I might have a voice protected account / safe in the future and if google servers are compromised those clips and be comped or resynthesized into my security phrase or used as false evidence against me in a court case.
What happens to privacy and security, I think there is a need for an anonymous mode on this feature, like the inCognito window for chrome browsers, some things are really meant to be private.
Google is silently demanding too much (unnecessary) trust from us; why should we trust you to keep our data(audio clips of our voice) save?
Now i know another reason why android devices use up so much data…all those audio clips have to be uploaded with my freakin data…that can not be fair.
Google claims they record only when you are say the hotword ‘Ok google’ or tap the microphone,
https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/6030020?hl=en plus some seconds before that, probably to catch the phrase “OK Google” and make sure they catch every bit of the phrase you are searching for…hmmm clever defense against people who say they have recording the whole time and that is why the Ok Google phrase is part of the audio clip recorded, but how can you record some seconds before if you were not listening and recording the whole time? Sure they could be using some delay compensation mechanisms, but should i subscribe to that…? NO! Information is Power and Google knows that better than most of us; they have built an empire around Information.
Google does not state in clear terms (if you find where they do pls drop me a comment) how much they record, they only say “Your audio is saved to your account only when you’re signed in and Voice & Audio Activity is turned on” Your Audio could just be OK Google, plus whatever you said and the rest will be “their audio”, who knows!
Another thing is they record anytime you use the feature, like it or not, you can’t opt out. This is what they have to say:
When Voice & Audio Activity is off, voice searches will be stored using anonymous identifiers. This information won’t be saved to your Google Account even if you’re signed in.
So they may as well be recording every audio they can grab.
Google is not completely honest about this things IMHO, correct me if i’m right. Google’s terms of service was last modified 30th April, 2014, there is nothing about recording audio clips of searches and commands…oh there is here: https://privacy.google.com/data-we-collect.html, it’s not just explicit.
Final words, you can’t turn this feature off, you can only decide not to use it, if you do – make sure your searches are clean, delete whatever mess you search for: https://history.google.com/history/audio?utm_source=help
stop trusting these techs and their claim of securing you, We all still love Google:)
As an aside, i wrote this article using Google Docs really cool web app, this is my first time of using it and as soon I launched it, I got a prompt asking if i would like to write with voice…Hell NO!
If you would like to read more about Google Privacy Policies visit https://www.google.co.uk/intl/en-GB/policies/
Thanks for reading this article, I love to write more. Read, share and comment about everything you want, I will really love some feedback, till next time.