Vincent Black

Is Big Brother listening to everything we say?




A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my wife about getting a shoe rack and literally not 30 minutes go by and l started getting emails from Wayfair and others about shoe racks. This also happened to me in the past with other situations where it was like someone was listening to my conversations and within minutes of my conversations with others l received some sort of feedback on sales over the internet.

This has happened to other friends and family of mine on many occasions and it has become a topic of conversation. My sense about these conversations is that many folks probably never thought twice about these things until they started getting in your face. Many considered these signs of advertising/solicitation as being just a coincidence, until it became a frightening occurrence over and over.

Big brother is listening to you and with digital eavesdropping especially in the advertising field information is more accessible than ever. Unfortunately, that accessibility has come at the expense of privacy. Now, more and more personal information is in the hands of corporations and governments, for uses not known to the average consumer. Although these entities have long been able to keep tabs on individuals, with the advent of virtual assistants and always-listening technologies, the ease by which a third party may extract information from a consumer has only increased.

Encryption, the practice of coding messages, is now routinely used in computerized software programs designed to protect the privacy of telephone, fax, e-mail, and internet communications, ATM transaction, storage of business and government data, and myriad other necessary and desirable applications.

The controls that the federal government would impose are Orwellian in the scope of their intrusiveness. They amount to no less than the government asking software companies to provide them with a key to be held in escrow that would allow the interception of every telephone call, fax, e-mail, internet transaction, and other electronic communication anywhere in the world.

As l have stated these coincidences are becoming a rather common occurrence. Anecdotal accounts are popping up all over the place with discussions leading to eerily corresponding advertisements featuring on all our favorite social media platforms and search engines. At first blissfully unaware of the problem, l started to notice creepily on-point ads a few months ago but kept relatively quiet about it, fearing l was transforming into one of those bug-eyed conspiracy theorists. Items l never even searched for, only talk about, were appearing before me.
Not wanting to overstate things about growing concerns regarding the accuracy of these ads, l broached the subject with a few close friends, one l knew wouldn’t immediately lock me up upon hearing about my observations. But rather than judging me, they started reporting their own instances of this phenomenon. Even down to the specific brand of clothes that were never searched for, only talked about.

I am still getting familiar with the recommendation of covering your laptop camera when in use because someone could be watching you at any time of the day or night.

During the last few years, many people have been welcoming digital home assistants into their homes and offices. They are easily accessible to consumers from a large range of electronic outlets and can be purchased for under fifty bucks. A few of the most common ones include Google Home and Amazon Alexa. These devices are smart speakers that connect to the home internet of consumers. They respond to commands of people within their homes. If you have no secrets, these devices are amazing, especially for seniors and others that need a companion or are not mobile. These devices can be a great asset. However, if you are not careful, these devices can also listen to many of your private conversations. Where these conversations end up, who knows.
So, the next time you consider installing one of these devices in your home or office, perhaps think about your privacy. These convenient little digital assistants may be conveniently spying on your habits and compromising your security in your own home or office.

Vince Nigro/MS

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