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To prove that other apps could be stealing data captured through your smartphone’s microphone, cybersecurity expert Ken Munro developed – with the help of David Lodge from Pen Test Partners – an app that would record what was being said in the vicinity of a phone, and display it on a PC monitor.“All we did was use the existing functionality of Google Android – we chose it because it was a little easier for us to develop in.” “We gave ourselves permission to use the microphone on the phone, set up a listening server on the internet, and everything that microphone heard on that phone, wherever it was in the world, came to us and we could then have sent back customized ads.”David Lodge went on to explain that much of the code was already available either within the OS or in the public domain, and it seems the experiment was achieved with minimal battery drain on the device.
Google and Facebook have both denied that their apps can take advantage of smartphone microphones to gather information in this way.
They believe that smartphone microphones are being used to record what they say, with the information used to better target Google ads You might think you're smart enough to dodge manipulative advertisements -- and maybe you are smart enough -- but what about children? It sounds unlikely, but the anecdotal evidence is quite compelling.A few days later, I’d forgotten about this, until I noticed that after leaving my phone at my mum’s house, a bunch of new shows appeared in Google Now, along with the legend “Because of your interest in this show”.You’ll see two examples above: on the left, It won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t share the same taste in TV shows as my mum.With Facebook telling the BBC that it blocks brands from advertising based on microphone data, and Google claiming “categorically” that it does not use any “utterances” from when the OK Google hotword So what is going on? Are Google and Facebook using voice recognition software against us to make a profit? Have you had the uncanny feeling that what you just talked about has appeared as an ad on your phone? Christian Cawley is a Deputy Editor at Make Use Of, covering security, Linux, DIY and programming.He has extensive experience in IT desktop and software support.