A federal Judge has just approved a class action law suit case against Big Tech to proceed. So glad our judicial system is just finally catching up on what has been known by the Cyber Security community for years.
I am pretty sure most people reading this article has an account with Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. I would also assume everyone with an internet connection probably has an Amazon echo or Google Nest smart speaker connected to their home network.
The Law suit claims that Big Tech is secretly recording and selling your private conversations without your consent. But here is the catch that is not being mentioned, you sort of already gave your consent when you signed up for their "Service". Big Tech and social media make money off of your data; they find out what you like, what you don't like, where you shop most of the time and then companies pay top dollar for this information and the ability to throw up an advertisement right on your screen.
Have you ever had a secret conversation in your home about what to get a family member for their up coming Birthday? Then, as you open your phone to check the weather you see a notification on Facebook. You check it out only to find out that your Uncle had a Tuna Melt for lunch yesterday and "it was delicious" according to him. As you browse your feed you start seeing Ads pop up about what to get that special someone as a gift. It's almost like someone was listening to your conversation and wanted to help you in your quest to find the perfect gift for your family member. Your assumption is correct, someone was listening but it wasn't a friend or family member, it was Big Tech checking up to see how they can manipulate you to spend more money.
Naturally, Big Tech's response to these accusations is by stating that people have the right to "opt out" of their listening capabilities by going into settings and disabling the recordings feature or muting the microphone on the smart home speaker or phone. However, there has been reports of cyber security professionals putting that opt-out feature to the test. They would mute the microphone, have a conversation about some obscure topic and then open up their web browsers only to find advertisements of that exact obscure product they were just discussing when the listening device was supposedly on mute.
The truth was revealed in a news article written a few years ago where the Big Tech executive being interviewed said that their policy was to routinely monitor and record conversations that they receive from smart speakers even when the device microphone was supposed to be muted. The reason for this was for the company to "improve" on the speech recognition to make their product work better. What a convenient reason to not respect the privacy of people in their own homes and make it about "ease of use for the customer".
Another article written by the AP back in 2015 I believe uncovered a secret behavioral analysis project being done on millions of unsuspecting users of Facebook. In the article they showed how the company randomly chose millions of users at random for the purpose of behavioral examination. Facebook ran a filter on these users accounts and only allowed negative status and news articles to show up on the users screen. The goal was to discover if they could control the behavior of the user by showing them all negative issues and subjects that the user would start having a more negative view themselves and start posting about negative things as well.
The next time you are anxious to sign up for the newest trend on a social media platform or install that cool new speaker that listens to your every command, make sure to take a few hours and a lawyer to read the fine print on the user agreement. Just remember you are not the customer in those agreements, you are the product being sold to the real money customers....