Discover if your tech toys have secret listening habits.

December 17, 2023
1 min read

Key Points:

  • Cox Media Group (CMG) was falsely claiming that “your devices are listening to you” and collecting data to sell to advertisers.
  • Their claim about “Active Listening” has since been labelled as baseless and the webpage containing these claims has been redirected.
  • Gizmodo highlights that existing research shows very little evidence to support the theory of mobile phones eavesdropping.
  • Both Android phones and iPhones contain built-in modern security protections which can easily identify if your phone’s microphone is in use.

Recently, the Cox Media Group (CMG) incited paranoia with their marketing claims that ‘your devices are listening to you’ and collecting data relevant to advertisers. Upon investigation, the assertion was determined to be baseless. The company’s “Active Listening” feature, as they described it, promised potential clients that they could accumulate voice data from casual conversations, serving it up as marketable information.

However, the company has since retraced its steps and redirected the page where these claims were previously laid bare. This decision was presumably owing to the lack of credible evidence supporting these allegations. Gizmodo has stressed that existing research shows sparse evidence that your smartphones actually listen to your conversations for advertising purposes.

Advertisers employ more straightforward and cost-effective methods to gather your data. Standard practices involve accumulating web data such as search queries, browser cookies, and social media posts. From a technological standpoint, it is easier and cheaper than supposedly deploying AI to analyze hours of audio files for valuable content.

Nevertheless, privacy concerns remain paramount in the minds of consumers. To counter this, both Android and iOS devices include robust security precautions to monitor and prevent unauthorized access to your device’s microphone. These safety measures are easy to navigate, allowing users to check and restrict app permissions related to microphone usage.

When an application attempts to use your microphone, modern versions of Android OS and iOS will display an indicator. For iOS users, an orange dot appears in the status bar, while Android users are alerted with a green dot. If additional assurance is required, users can delve deeper into their phones’ Permission settings to double-check the apps granted access to your microphone.

In summary, despite CMG’s earlier claims, the mechanisms and probabilities of your devices spying on you are highly improbable. Rest assured, your conversations are safe, and unauthorized access to your device’s microphone is unlikely due to the rigorous security features available on contemporary smartphones.

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