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 Message Boards » » Your Phone Is Listening and it's Not Paranoia Page [1]  
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Not that this should surprise anyone

Quote :
"Your Phone Is Listening and it's Not Paranoia

Here's how I got to bottom of the ads-coinciding-with-conversations mystery.


A couple years ago, something strange happened. A friend and I were sitting at a bar, iPhones in pockets, discussing our recent trips in Japan and how we’d like to go back. The very next day, we both received pop-up ads on Facebook about cheap return flights to Tokyo. It seemed like just a spooky coincidence, but then everyone seems to have a story about their smartphone listening to them. So is this just paranoia, or are our smartphones actually listening?

According to Dr. Peter Henway—The senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterix, and former lecturer and researcher at Edith Cowan University—the short answer is yes, but perhaps in a way that's not as diabolical as it sounds.

For your smartphone to actually pay attention and record your conversation, there needs to be a trigger, such as when you say “hey Siri” or “okay Google.” In the absence of these triggers, any data you provide is only processed within your own phone. This might not seem a cause for alarm, but any third party applications you have on your phone—like Facebook for example—still have access to this “non-triggered” data. And whether or not they use this data is really up to them.

“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 Peter. “Whether it’s timing or location-based or usage of certain functions, [apps] are certainly pulling those microphone permissions and using those periodically. All the internals of the applications send this data in encrypted form, so it’s very difficult to define the exact trigger.”

He goes on to explain that apps like Facebook or Instagram could have thousands of triggers. An ordinary conversation with a friend about needing a new pair of jeans could be enough to activate it. Although, the key word here is “could,” because although the technology is there, companies like Facebook vehemently deny listening to our conversations.

“Seeing Google are open about it, I would personally assume the other companies are doing the same.” Peter tells me. “Really, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be. It makes good sense from a marketing standpoint, and their end-use agreements and the law both allow it, so I would assume they’re doing it, but there’s no way to be sure.”

With this in mind, I decided to try an experiment. Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I’m thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.

The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I’d run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.

Peter told me that although no data is guaranteed to be safe for perpetuity, he assured me that in 2018 no company is selling their data directly to advertisers. But as we all know, advertisers don’t need our data for us to see their ads.

“Rather than saying here’s a list of people who followed your demographic, they say Why don’t you give me some money, and I’ll make that demographic or those who are interested in this will see it. If they let that information out into the wild, they’ll lose that exclusive access to it, so they’re going to try to keep it as secret as possible.

Peter went on to say that just because tech companies value our data, it doesn’t keep it safe from governmental agencies. As most tech companies are based in the US, the NSA or perhaps the CIA can potentially have your information disclosed to them, whether it’s legal in your home country or not.

So yes, our phones are listening to us and anything we say around our phones could potentially be used against us. But, according to Peter at least, it’s not something most people should be scared of.

Because unless you’re a journalist, a lawyer, or have some kind of role with sensitive information, the access of your data is only really going to advertisers. If you’re like everyone else, living a really normal life, and talking to your friends about flying to Japan, then it’s really not that different to advertisers looking at your browsing history.

“It’s just an extension from what advertising used to be on television,” says Peter. Only instead of prime time audiences, they’re now tracking web-browsing habits. It’s not ideal, but I don’t think it poses an immediate threat to most people.”
"


[Edited on June 5, 2018 at 1:58 PM. Reason : https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/wjbzzy/your-phone-is-listening-and-its-not-paranoia]

6/5/2018 1:57:48 PM

darkone
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Guy I watch on YouTube (AvE) got ads for cranberry bog pumps after having a discussion on that very esoteric topic with a buddy.

6/5/2018 6:08:33 PM

moron
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If phones were collecting audio data and shipping it to advertisers, it would be easy to prove this, and I don't think this is what is happening.

What's probably occurring is apps collecting geotagged data, and correlating people who know each other and people who were in the same location at the same time. If anyone in your friends circle, who was physically near you, starts googling a topic, all their friends will see that topic, and chances are if you're discussing a trip to japan, someone has googled japan recently.

iOS apps don't even have the capability to record the mic in the background without a red banner showing up on the phone (i think the youtube app does something sketchy with this though).

It is possible an android using friend has installed some sketchy app that's recording you, and because you're friends with them and your geotagging, you get those ads too.

6/5/2018 9:29:11 PM

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Quote :
"For your smartphone to actually pay attention and record your conversation, there needs to be a trigger, such as when you say “hey Siri” or “okay Google.” In the absence of these triggers, any data you provide is only processed within your own phone. This might not seem a cause for alarm, but any third party applications you have on your phone—like Facebook for example—still have access to this “non-triggered” data. And whether or not they use this data is really up to them.

“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 Peter. “Whether it’s timing or location-based or usage of certain functions, [apps] are certainly pulling those microphone permissions and using those periodically. All the internals of the applications send this data in encrypted form, so it’s very difficult to define the exact trigger.”

He goes on to explain that apps like Facebook or Instagram could have thousands of triggers. An ordinary conversation with a friend about needing a new pair of jeans could be enough to activate it. Although, the key word here is “could,” because although the technology is there, companies like Facebook vehemently deny listening to our conversations"


^ given the above explanation, I don't think your iOS explanation of the red banner is accurate.

Authors explanation isn't a very good example as he just got back from Japan, but I had something happen recently when I made a joke about a moving company's dumb name and said i'd have more confidence in the company"two guys and a truck." Sure enough a few minutes later i pulled up facebook on my phone and I had ads for that very company, and I've never researched anything similar.

6/5/2018 9:39:05 PM

TreeTwista10
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lol at moron being an iFanboi itt

6/6/2018 12:03:28 AM

Wickerman
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I know for sure that my phone was listening. I was getting very specific suggestions on YouTube recently and they were all based on keywords that either me or people around me had used during the day. To test my suspicion, I turned my phone on looked at my phone and said Ok Google and the search box popped up. This means that it was on always listen mode even when a particular app wasn't running. I just took away the mic permission from the Google App on my phone and hope that things change.

[Edited on June 6, 2018 at 7:00 AM. Reason : .]

6/6/2018 6:59:21 AM

ElGimpy
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This is very easy for any of you to run an actual test:

Write down 5 random keywords that have NOTHING to do with your life and aren't general necessities for people on a piece of paper. Do not type them on any keyboard. For example..."Madagascar, jai alai, Eeyore, metronome, trapper keeper". Obviously make up your own as these could theoretically apply to you, but they don't to me. And further obviously, don't pick something that could have a second meaning that would apply to you. Don't pick "water polo" and then be like, "OMG Facebook is showing me ads for Polo shirts!"

Post the picture here, again, do NOT type the words anywhere, ever, and then start saying the words randomly ONLY WHEN YOU'RE ALONE over the next few days or however long this is supposed to take.

Then we'll see if your phone is listening to you

6/6/2018 10:42:45 AM

LoneSnark
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It is easier than that. Get an app to track CPU usage and data usage on the phone. If the phone is doing voice to text constantly it should be easy to see with a packet sniffer.

6/14/2018 9:45:38 AM

TreeTwista10
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You Allow Yourself to Be Always-On And This Is Not Clickbait

6/15/2018 11:46:45 PM

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https://slate.trib.al/g8lEfTr

6/23/2018 12:42:59 PM

moron
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I did notice this week I got an ad for OBD readers after discussing them with a former coworker (ad set also had high end home theater systems). Both of us have iPhones but we were in an open warehouse area where many people could hear us.

It was a brief conversation and neither of us had pulled out our phones

However we also talked about phone cases just as much, but I didn’t see any ads for phone cases

The only thing I can think is that I was googling tires last week, so maybe just coincidentally I was seeded an ad for OBD readers a few days later...

Just occurred to me that there’s no restriction on an app surreptitiously reading Bluetooth hardware IDs of nearby devices, and if Facebook knows what all the users Bluetooth IDs are they can easily correlate who I know in real life.

6/24/2018 1:09:45 AM

colangus
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Yep- I constantly see ads on Instagram for shit I've said in conversation, but didn't search for.

I swear I saw an ad for something I was thinking of... I didn't even say or search it.

6/30/2018 11:39:31 PM

darkone
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^^ I swear I read something about devices logging bluetooth IDs being embedded in cardboard retain displays for marketing research purposes.

This is pretty much the same thing: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/attention-shopper-stores-are-tracking-your-cell.html

7/3/2018 2:15:14 PM

darkone
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Study Finds That a Large Number of Popular Android Apps Secretly Cast the Screen To Third Parties, But They Don't Listen To Conversations

Gizmodo article:
https://gizmodo.com/these-academics-spent-the-last-year-testing-whether-you-1826961188

Pending research presentation:
https://recon.meddle.mobi/panoptispy/

7/3/2018 2:52:40 PM

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