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No your phone is not spying on you: Consumer Reports
Published Friday, October 18, 2019 9:05PM EDT Last Updated Friday, October 18, 2019 9:51PM EDT
While it might seem like your smart phone is always listening, that’s probably not what’s happening according to one consumer research organization.
“This is something that researchers have looked at a lot and despite all those weird feelings, they’ve yet to find any evidence that phones, and the apps on them, are actually recording or listening to your conversations,” Consumer Reports’ Bree Fowler said.
The concern comes on the heels of some manufacturers of digital assistants admitting that they have occasionally listened in on users’ conversations with their smart speakers.
Researchers say that your phone has much more efficient ways to figure out what you're talking about and what you’re interested in without recording the conversations.
"Researchers have found that apps on phones will do things like take screenshots or use your GPS to track where you’re going, or even collect video of what you’re doing on your phone and all of this can be used to create targeted ads," Fowler said.
Despite that, a recent survey by Consumer Reports found that 43 per cent of Americans who own a smart phone believe it sometimes records their conversations without permission.
“I think it’s a little creepy” said one woman asked about the coincidence.
“I went on vacation a few times and after I got back, ads for those countries came up in my Instagram” said another woman and a man added “I spoke with someone about beds, and the next thing I know there are ads for beds on my phone,” she said.
So how do you explain having a conversation about something and then seeing an ad for it on your phone? According to Fowler you probably already did an online search for it.
“Chances are you probably did a Google search for those shoes or maybe you mapped out directions to a shoe store," Fowler said.
Consumer Reports says one way to limit the access they have is to avoid using the universal sign-on features offered by both Google and Facebook.
Also, monitor the permissions you give each app on your phone. If an app doesn’t need to know your location, consider restricting its access to that data.