YOU ARE AT:Analyst AngleKagan: Defend yourself against loss of personal privacy

Kagan: Defend yourself against loss of personal privacy

Last week the Washington Post wrote about the growing concern privacy experts are having over AI and cameras in self powered, robot vacuum cleaners like iRobot Roomba or Shark ION Robot. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The point is, if these devices can see and recognize dog poop and avoid it, what other personal and private conversations can they see and hear? Remember, if they can see and hear, they can both record and transmit the data over the Internet. Now consider all the other amazing new tech we use every day. This means your personal privacy is gone forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love new technology like AI, IoT, the cloud and more. I love all these companies that bring it to us. The way they provide new services and information to help us is truly amazing and inspiring.

New technology like AI is terrific, but also invades personal privacy

That being said, there is the other side of the coin which doesn’t get the same attention. And this other side is much darker. It’s where your personal and private information is exposed and no longer private.

Yes, these amazing new technologies also invade our personal privacy. There are so many new consumer, business and household devices which now have cameras and use AI to do their job better.

While these do offer new and exciting features and functionality, the real question is would you ever agree to have a camera and microphone placed in your home, your car, in your office or on your person designed to record and transmit everything like discussions, arguments, personal interactions, private and personal information and more, 24/7?

Of course not. Yet that’s exactly what is happening.

First, we must be aware of this issue. Then we must develop ways to protect our personal information and privacy as the tech continues to develop.

Even Apple iPhone invades personal privacy

Understand, I like Apple and their privacy policies which tries to protect users.

However, something happened to me last week that opened my eyes to the threat. I was having coffee one morning with my coffee buddies when all of a sudden, my iPhone wakes up and says it just created a new text message based on what I just said to the group. It had addressed it to person who I didn’t know and said, Ready to Send? Before I could stop it, it sent the text.

WAIT! STOP! Too late. Sent.

Can you see the extent of this problem? How embarrassing this could have been depending on what I said and who the text was sent to?

I never asked Siri to wake up. I never asked Siri to create a text. I never told Siri a particular person. I never asked Siri to send the text. I was not involved in this process at all.

Yet, Siri created and sent the text to someone in my address book, without my permission.

Next, I had to have an extended text conversation with that stranger trying to explain what happened.

We all had a laugh, but this is a serious problem.

This is just one example of many of how our personal privacy is being invaded and threatened by out of control, new technology, run amok!

To make matters worse… just a few minutes ago the same thing almost happened again this morning, a week later!

AI improves life immeasurably, but also invades privacy

True, AI can improve our lives immeasurably, but if left unchecked can also be like a camera and microphone in our personal space recording and transmitting everything in our lives.

Fortunately, today some companies and executives do have a conscience. Some companies and executives are more responsible than others.

However, many others simply do not care. They push the envelope much further than any of us feel comfortable with.

Apple vs. Google Android in privacy battle

Think about the ongoing privacy battle between Apple and Google? Both use AI and both improve our lives. While both use this new technology to generate more profit, Apple protects our personal privacy while Google and Android exploit it for profit.

However, even among the companies who protect our privacy today, what about a few years down the road? When leadership changes, their approach could also change.

The one constant in the universe is that things change. Things always change. That’s why we need to protect ourselves today, in the early days of this new technology revolution.

Human beings guard their personal privacy which is at risk

After all, as human beings we value our privacy. Our home is private. Our office is private. Our lives are private. We think we can act and say and do anything we want, and no one will ever know. We are wrong.

Modern technology, which makes sexy and compelling devices has another side to that coin. A darker side. A side that listens and watches and records everything we say and do.

Everything. 24/7.

Think about the Google and Amazon digital assistants we park on a shelf and talk to. We ask the weather, ask it to open the doors, to send a text, to play music and so much more. However, these devices are like having a microphone in your private space listening and recording everything.

Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri, Facebook, YouTube invade privacy

The same with many social networks like Facebook, which is under intense scrutiny with the US Government.

You must never forget that every word you type, every search you make, every picture you view is all recorded.

That’s why when you search for something on your search engine, suddenly ads for that search appear on Facebook or YouTube.

To use any of these new technologies, you must click away your rights to personal privacy in their Terms of Service. Otherwise, you cannot use them.

Test your iPhone, Android smartphone for privacy

Our smartphones are a privacy invader as well. They track every call, every text, every email, every web search, every game, everything. Period.

They watch with the camera and listen with the microphone to all of us all day, every day. Then that data is kept in massive servers, of these companies or the US Government, possibly forever.

Don’t believe me. Check for yourself. Leave your iPhone or Android sitting on the desk, face up and simply say, Hey Siri, if you use an iPhone or Hey Google, if you use Android.

This is the trigger, and it will answer you and you can have a conversation with the AI these services use.

Fair enough. The problem is, even if you are not asking a question, do you think the smartphone is not listening? Dream on.

It knows everything about you and tracks you all day, every day. It tracks your location, what you say, in fact everything, all day long.

Invasion of our personal privacy gets worse every year

This invasion of our privacy has been happening, bit by bit, on all the technology we have been using for years.

Think about the security systems and doorbell monitors like Ring, SimpliSafe and all their competitors, who can watch with cameras and record with microphones what is going on in every aspect of your life, and so much more.

If you have a system like this and if you can see who is at your front door and talk with them over the Internet, you may not realize it, but you may already be a victim of privacy invasion, and you many not even know.

Some companies better than others are protecting private information

So, this is a real problem. This is the challenge we all face today. We all want to play with all the new toys and tech, but we don’t realize how vulnerable and exposed that leaves us.

There are countless examples and yes, some companies are better than others are protecting your personal and private information, today. However, too many companies and executives simply do not care. They put profits ahead of doing the right thing.

We read about it every day in the news when someone gets caught like I did with the iPhone text message. People get embarrassed, and we laugh. But this is no laughing matter.

AI and technology is everywhere and always listening and watching

New advanced technology like AI, the cloud along with cameras and microphones which today are everywhere inside the privacy of your home, office, outside along the streets, in stores and parks and everyplace people gather.

All of this monitoring technology has been developed for a legitimate reason, and even though privacy experts have been sounding the alarm for decades now, we still see our personal and most private moments eroding away.

Just think about it. Is that what we really want?

Eroding personal privacy protections limits freedom

And this is not even the big problem. This is only the warning of the big problems which are still coming.

The big problems are when your personal and private information, voice and video will be used by people, companies or government agencies going forward, against you.

We are moving into a time when all the safeguards of our personal and private moments are exposed.

This is limiting our freedom like never before.

Yet it continues and is only getting worse year after year.

Cost of using new tech is giving up personal privacy

Unfortunately, there is a price to using all this cool and innovative new technology. It is giving up your personal privacy.

That means, step by step we are moving into this new world where we are enticed by the sweet song of new technology, but where we are also forced to give up more of our most personal and private information and privacy.

And once it is gone, it is gone forever. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

I am not saying we should avoid this technology. In fact, it I love technology. I love telling you about the companies and technologies that are making our lives better and more exciting, year after year.

We must balance technology like AI and protect our personal privacy

However, at the same time, if not controlled, the dark side of this technology will also make our lives worse.

We, as a people, need to find a balance so we can enjoy all that new technology brings to our lives, and still protect our own personal privacy.

That is the serious and important problem and an urgent challenge that we can no longer ignore.


Jeff Kagan
Jeff Kagan
Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

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