Most of what you type, say, search for, and buy is being tracked in some way. Big Tech provides us with fantastic free products, but the cost is our privacy.
Even your television viewing habits are packaged and sold to advertisers. Here’s how to prevent your television from spying on you.
Some eavesdropping is even more intrusive. Are you concerned that someone is spying on your phone? Examine this list of red flags.
You have the ability to fight back. A microphone blocker costs around $10. To stop recording, slide it into your headphone jack. Buy the cheapest pair of headphones you can find and snip them off for an even cheaper do-it-yourself option.
Here’s how to limit what you give to Big Tech:
When I say your Echo device is always listening, Amazon assures me that it is only listening for the “wake word.” I don’t see the distinction here. In any case, if you turn off the microphone on your Echo, there’s not much point in keeping it around.
The real problem is that Amazon employees are listening in on your recordings. Here’s how to put a stop to it:
• Open your phone’s Alexa app, then tap the More menu button.
• Navigate to Settings > Alexa Privacy.
• Select Manage Alexa Data.
• Uncheck the boxes next to “Help Alexa improve” and “Use messages to improve transcriptions.”
In some cases, you can disable the Echo’s microphone for added privacy. At the top of the device, press the off/on button for the microphone. When this button is red, the microphone is turned off. Press the button again to reactivate it, and it will turn blue.
Your mobile phone
Do you rely on Siri to complete tasks for you? You may be unaware of how much data is being sent back to Apple’s servers.
Because you can’t really choose what is shipped off and stored, your best bet is to turn off Siri if you don’t want Apple to have your recordings.
• Launch the iPhone Settings app.
• Scroll to the bottom and select Siri & Search.
• Toggle the green switch next to “Listen for ‘Hey Siri'” to off.
• You can also disable “Allow Siri When Locked” to prevent Siri from activating when a button in your pocket is pressed.
Do you have an Android? To disable the “OK Google” wake phrase, follow these steps:
• Launch the Google app on your smartphone.
• In the upper-right corner, tap your profile picture.
• Select Settings > Google Assistant > General from the menu.
• To disable Google Assistant, slide the toggle to the left.
For Windows 10 computers:
• Open Device Manager by right-clicking on the Start button.
• Expand the audio inputs and outputs section in the Device Manager window, and you should see your microphone listed as one of the interfaces.
• Right-click on the microphone and choose Disable.
On a Mac, type:
• Select System Preferences from the Apple menu…
• Go to the Sound tab, then the Input tab.
• Move the Input volume slider to the left so that no sound is picked up.
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