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  • Is Apple listening to your conversations?

    Posted on MrJimPhelps Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems iOS Is Apple listening to your conversations?

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      • #2138234 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        My wife has noticed that sometimes she will talk about a topic with her iPhone nearby, and then she will start getting ads on her iPhone related to that topic, something that she didn’t do any searching for.

        A former coworker noticed the same thing on her smart phone (not sure if hers is an iPhone or an Android).

        Sounds like either Apple/Google or the cell phone provider is listening in and sending ads based on your conversations.

        Has anyone else seen this?

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2138253 Reply
        Kirsty
        Da Boss

        There has been much discussion on this, much of it 2-3 years ago.

        For instance, from August 2018:

        Apple’s letter detailed all the ways users can turn off location tracking, Siri listening (more on that below), and data collected from third-party apps. Although Apple says it builds “technical controls into iOS and iPhone to ensure customer data has strong protections” and analyzes each app that requests permission to be listed on its App Store to ensure they follow Apple’s rules, it cannot always control where information users supply to third-party apps, like Facebook, goes.

        Similar articles:
        Is your smartphone listening to everything you say? We asked the experts
        By Simon Hill | January 15, 2017

        Are smartphones listening and targeting us with ads?
        CBS News | February 27, 2018

         
        Is Siri enabled, and have any apps been installed? I’d start by checking the permissions…

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2138274 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Is Siri enabled, and have any apps been installed? I’d start by checking the permissions…

        Apple doesn’t do ads Siri included.
        Facebook / Amazon / Google applications and smart speakers listen in the background and spam users with ads.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2138281 Reply
          Kirsty
          Da Boss

          Apple doesn’t, but as the quoted article says, some installed apps may be able to (depending on what you are using, of course).

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2138339 Reply
          access-mdb
          AskWoody MVP

          Where do these ads appear? I must be missing them because I don’t get spammed by ads and I have all the things mentioned other than Facebook. It’s been said that having a MS account gets you spammed with ads – but I’ve never seen any. Just wondering….

          Sorry, I think this may have gone off topic…

          • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by access-mdb.
      • #2141374 Reply
        Nathan Parker
        AskWoody_MVP

        Apple has a strong stance on privacy, so it’s likely not Apple itself.

        However, if you have third-party apps installed that have access to your microphone (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.), those could be a culprit.

        I’d start by going to Settings>Privacy>Microphone and see what’s enabled.

        Is she typing any of those topics into a web browser or search engine? If so, what browser/search engine is she using? Some browsers and search engines track activity for targeted advertising as well.

        There are plenty of times I have browsed sites, then received ads later for what I browsed on, although what gets wackier is when I’m offered ads for something I’ve already purchased.

        Nathan Parker

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141392 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Nathan et al. : Definitely, in my opinion, not Apple, but Apps. Tim Cook and Co. have by now too much skin in this game to risk it by using their products to spy on their customers.

        As to precautions one might take to keep one’s private life to oneself: I keep the internal microphones turned off and keep a little patch of duct tape on the lens of the camera built-in in each one of my laptops’ screens. I reverse all these measures only when preparing for teleconferencing, then back in they all go.

        It might seem like too much precaution, but I’ve read in a couple of places that some third party software might be the vehicle for malware that can turn on the camera without one knowing, with the potential for taking compromising pictures and then blackmailing the unwary computer user. Wasted effort on me, I would like to think, but one never knows.

        As to one getting ads of things one has bought already: I get a lot of that. It is probably because: (a) someone wants me to go and buy the same thing again, or (b) because the AIs used to choose those ads that are then sent to me are rather short in the “I” department. I am inclined to go with (b).

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2141394 Reply
          Kirsty
          Da Boss

          keep a little patch of duct tape on the lens of the camera built-in in each one of my laptops’ screens

          Might I suggest a friendlier EFF sticker with “ultra-removable glue”, designed to cover laptop & device cameras? Apart from anything else, the small $5 cost goes towards supporting a worthy organisation (as far as I am aware), and is less damaging than duct tape’s adhesive! 🙂
          Laptop Camera Cover Set II – extnl link to EFF

          4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141401 Reply
        Nathan Parker
        AskWoody_MVP

        Those stickers look good. Would they be useful to put on other devices such as a tablet or smartphone? Since my iPhone uses Face ID though for unlock, would I need to remove it every time I unlock my phone?

        Nathan Parker

        • #2141421 Reply
          Kirsty
          Da Boss

          They are designed for devices such as tablets and smartphones. However, you would need access to one camera for the FaceID, so you would need to take it off to log in that way.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2141429 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Nathan,

          Here, a couple of suggestions of things one could use on one’s cellphone or computer camera lens for privacy, so I also could use this in my laptops. (I like the slider.) The stickers are called the Web Camera Lens, and one can get them from Amazon (although I would rather get them from the EFF and, as Kristy has suggested, also contribute to a good cause, all in one go.)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S72G9C-IeZU

          This one is from Amazon about ProtechPrivacy: the one with the slider.

          https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/E029D843-75AB-4FC6-BAC1-A9297232B547

          Oscar

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141443 Reply
        Nathan Parker
        AskWoody_MVP

        Thanks for the info. I generally keep my iPad and iPhone in a desk drawer during the day, and my iPad has a cover on it, so I guess the main area where the privacy stickers would be best is on my computers since those sit on my desk. I could apply the sticker to my phone at night when I lay it next to my bed, so no one can watch me sleep (which would be boring).

        I am also changing home security cameras to one that works over iCloud HomeKit Secure Video instead of one that transmits images to my home security system vendor since I haven’t been pleased with them lately, and I don’t want them having access to my home security camera.

        In the past, I had a Dropcam, and I’d play back the footage of when I’d walk into my office tired when waking up in the mornings. If anyone wanted to hack that and watch that, they’d have gotten a nice laugh.

        Nathan Parker

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141480 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        privacy stickers would be best is on my computers since those sit on my desk

        Just don’t install fishy apps like Facebook, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa.. and you will be fine.

        I  use a band aid on my Laptop’s camera (like Zukerberg does on his 🙂

         
        3 things about this photo of Zuck:

        Camera covered with tape
        Mic jack covered with tape
        Email client is Thunderbird

        Attachments:
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2141714 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        If someone can reach remotely into one’s Mac (or any other type of computers that are often used at home and by small businesses) and surreptitiously turn on the camera, I suppose the same could happen with the built-in microphones and to the same nefarious ends. I have them disabled when not needed, but that does not mean they cannot be turned on again by a hacker. So, does any one here happens to know of anything practical — besides physically destroying them, of course — that one can do to make sure that, at least, they cannot be used by crooked outsiders even if they manage to get their cybernetic hands into one’s computer? (Assuming that one has taken appropriate but not extreme and, or paranoid measures to prevent such intrusions, so these remain possible, if not very likely.)

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2141783 Reply
        Nathan Parker
        AskWoody_MVP

        Camera covered with tape Mic jack covered with tape Email client is Thunderbird

        And it looks like Google Chrome is his web browser. 🙂

        Nathan Parker

      • #2141784 Reply
        Nathan Parker
        AskWoody_MVP

        If someone can reach remotely into one’s Mac (or any other type of computers that are often used at home and by small businesses) and surreptitiously turn on the camera, I suppose the same could happen with the built-in microphones and to the same nefarious ends.

        Yeah, I cannot fully disable mine since I’m in classes and work webinars too much during the week. If they listen in, then they’ll just have to discover that I’m an undercover spy with secret plans to take over the world. 🙂

        Nathan Parker

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2142146 Reply
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        And I think this is the kind of thing we are discussing here:

        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51530311

        Although it does not take a foreign power to do this; tech-savvy crooks also can do it, for example infecting and then making infectious some usually safe to visit Web site: drive-by infection, one might say.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
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