π

We're Losing the Last Chance of Anonymity With Voice Profiles

Show Sidebar

Call me paranoid. In my opinion, this is an obsolete adjective since the Snowden revelations.

So far, our privacy and freedom was attacked not only but also by brick and mortar retail stores via Bluetooth- and WiFi-scanners (excellent German talk about this industry). Using camera systems, they are able to determine sex and age very accurately among other things.

While this being alarming for people who care about their privacy, this is nothing compared to voice identification.

With a much smaller cost factor, microphones may be installed everywhere to recognize and track people not only in retail stores. Combined with data from Alexa, Google Echo, Apple Siri and such, anybody is able to get extremely detailed profiles from almost anybody in reach within seconds: name, address, phone numbers, email addresses, psychological profiles, estimated voting behavior, household income, recent search queries, willingness for paying more than necessary (Apple anybody?), pregnancies, connection networks to other persons, you name it.

This technology is far from being new. The NSA was able to identify single persons within seconds over a decade ago. And it's not just the agencies. Therefore, this box has been opened a long time ago.

Voice profiles for identifying persons within seconds is a major threat for our privacy and freedom.

Be careful whom you deliver sensitive data. For example, Microsoft is giving away advanced voice transcription technology for free. Got an idea why they don't charge for it extra? Google is providing more and more services with this technology.

What can we do about it?

Digital Self-defense

I gave up hope for politicians willing to protect our privacy. They are influenced by lobbyist and multinationals in order to make more money and get a decent job after their "public service".

So there won't be any regulations for this kind of threat in the foreseeable future.

The average person don't understand the implications of nowadays surveillance. Even worse, they don't understand future threats by collected data that will be held against them some day.

People who care about their privacy do have options. I request that phone calls are not recorded "for quality purposes". There won't be any chat with me when there is Alexa, Siri or Echo is listening in the background. I try to organize my infrastructure myself instead of moving things into the public cloud. Things like that are sometimes very easy and sometimes it requires additional effort. The decision for the trade-off is yours.

I also try to explain the situation to people who care and who just don't know things like this by writing blog articles like this or giving talks on the subject.

Please do care. It's your life and you're also exposing sensitive data of people you love as well.

Comment via email or via Disqus comments below: