Smart devices are already flooding the market that monitor your activities and make intelligent decisions on your behalf like tracking your sugar or blood pressure and informing your family and/or doctor in case it falls below a critical level. This may sound like a useful and helpful application but it also brings with itself some security concerns. What if this data falls into the wrong hands? While someone might not be so interested in knowing your blood sugar levels, the device also tracks your location which you certainly would not want to share with unknown people.
Recently, Samsung and LG were criticized over the way their smart TV sets gathered information about viewing habits by recording conversations and sending across the net for analysis. This led the manufacturers to clarify when such sets ‘listen’ to what people say and rather than listening all the time, the voice activation feature works only when people press a button on a remote control and speak into a microphone. So is privacy loss “intrinsic” to such gadgets and can they be trusted?
These devices don’t have the processing power to do much speech recognition on their own. They record your voice, and then ship it off to a third party for analysis.That third party provides the speech recognition servers for LG, Siri,Samsung and others. Every question or command you speak into Siri is shipped off for processing, then stored for up to 24 months. Imagine what a bit of data mining on those servers might reveal. To be cautious, IBM has banned Siri from their networks.
New technologies warrant novel means of data capture and protection that safeguard user’s data privacy. Cyber security experts are working on new standards and laws to share responsibility of data protection with the manufacturers and users. Also, we must accept as users that some data and privacy loss is inevitable when we want a device to gather data and make decisions on our behalf so rather than resisting with paranoia and mistrust, good parenting demands that we trust the smart applications and allow them the space and time to evolve into a more intelligent form. Till then we will have to bother reading the fine prints or trust the technology with our precious data.
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