Tech Investor: Google And Amazon Use Smart Speakers For MASS SURVEILLANCE

by | Sep 2, 2019 | Headline News | 14 comments

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    Tech investor John Borthwick says that smart speakers from the like of Amazon and Google are being used for mass surveillance. Borthwick is forthcoming with his assertion that the information gathering performed by such devices is the same thing as surveillance.

    Borthwick is the founder of venture capital firm Betaworks and former Time Warner and AOL executive. “I would say that there’s two or three layers sort of problematic layers with these new smart speakers, smart earphones that are in the market now,” Borthwick told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer during an interview for his series Influencers. “And so the first is, from a consumer standpoint, user standpoint, is that these, these devices are being used for what’s — it’s hard to call it anything but surveillance,” Borthwick said.

    “I personally believe that you, as a user and as somebody who likes technology, who wants to use technology, that you should have far more rights about your data usage than we have today,” Borthwick said of companies’ inability to protect private information. And the privacy concerns and human rights violations warnings are warranted. Borthwick’s comments come on the heels of several controversies surrounding smart assistants including Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri, in which each company admitted that human workers listen to users’ queries as a means of improving their digital assistants’ voice recognition capabilities.

    “They’ve gone to those devices and they’ve said, ‘Give us data when people passively act upon the device.’ So in other words, I walk over to that light switch,” Borthwick said. “I turn it off, turn it on, it’s now giving data back to the smart speaker.”

    The uproar surrounding smart speakers and their assistants began when Bloomberg reported in April that Amazon used a global team of employees and contractors to listen to users’ voice commands to Alexa to improve its speech recognition.

    That was followed by a similar report by Belgian-based VRT News about Google employees listening to users’ voice commands for Google Assistant. The Guardian then published a third piece about Apple employees listening to users’ Siri commands. Facebook was also pulled into the controversy when Bloomberg reported it had employees listen to users’ voice commands made through its Messenger app.

    Google and Apple have since apologized, with Google halting the practice, and Apple announcing that it will automatically opt users out of voice sample collection. Users instead will have to opt in if they want to provide voice samples to improve Siri’s voice recognition. -Yahoo Finance

    The controversy surrounding “smart” technology, or artificial intelligence is far from over. As technology advances, the surveillance will increase and so will the secrecy, as companies get better at hiding their indiscretions.


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      1. You have the right to remain silent. Americans are too dumb to see the threat that their words carry, I include myself in that catagory. Free speech is a basic fundamental right. Expecting everyone to trash their overseers spying is too much to ask for. Gotcha by the privates.

        • I have told you this Fact before. You are warned:
          The True/Real purpose of ALL Technology is to Snitch-Snoop-Surveil-Track-Trace-Watch You-CONTROL you.

          They give you at least a dubious “feature” so you will allow the over priced china made junk into your life.

          My team told the DOD/Military many Years ago, ALL technology out of China is compromised and a National Security Threat. No one and I mean NO ONE would listen, or heed the warning.
          Now they act like it is a “new” revelation that Huwai is compromised. Idiots. ALL Tech manufactured in china is compromised. Everything electronic out of China is compromised, EVERYTHING electronic. All of it is a National Security Threat to the USA.

          There are China intel operatives running around ALL over north Texas. They can be found in book stores taking pictures of patrons, and scanning books/magazines with phone app.
          They hang aroud Raytheon, TI, Bell Textron, etc. Stealing intellectual property on a wide scale. China steals the technology of EVERYTHING made over there. No one will do a damn thing to stop this. WHY?

          Corporations making anything in china are assisting a dangerous enemy, with nuclear capability, that wants the USA destroyed. It is TREASON to equip an enemy with the technological advantage to ultimatly destroy your country. No one will listen.

          You are to be silent docile sheep, unarmed and in the dark.
          The government will continue false flags to get your guns.
          Politician wolves will NOT allow armed sheep. You are whats for dinner.
          I believe rounds FROM police in some of the recent events are the rounds that actually hit the innocent. COVERUP. I don’t believe the nutjob psycho perps are that proficient as marksman. What do you think?

          They will use ANY excuse to disarm you.
          England banned guns. Now the criminals use knives.
          Nutjobs and criminals will do evil no matter “law”.
          Just like politicians and police. No accountability for Treason or their murders/crimes.

          Politicians, Police, judges, paid off with Drug cartel money.
          Critical thinking no longer allowed.Free speech not allowed
          my comments censored here most times

      2. rss feeds and a newish, magic-mirror toy.

        There is a phenomenon, in which eye movement is tracked, in s tores. You look at the same (random subject matter) for several seconds, or position your body toward it. This appears in nearby monitors, showing you a ds, in the s tore.

        Several people report t argeted a dvertising, that looks like their daily travels, on the cellphone.

        I have personally used an uncommon figure of speech, several times in a row, and heard it appear in their media — ineptly. Some of them are just stringing words together.

        Costing me nothing, to make myself heard.

        My question is this —
        Is it leveraging you, or are you leveraging it.

        Like messing with the mocking birds. Make the same 3-4 notes about 10 times. You might just hear that same tune, a week from now.

      3. Does it matter if humans stop monitoring these devices? No, they are constantly listening to every word as long as they are on. How else would they know to respond unless they were listening? Every word you utter in the presence of one of these devices is stored in an NSA server somewhere waiting for an occasion to blackmail or prosecute you for a thought crime in the future. It’s all part of the metadata they freely admit to collecting on anyone that use any electronic communication. Stored for future examination should you trigger any number of key words the algorithms are searching for. You are then red flagged for closer examination/take down operation. I know many on here are already in a red flag file for anti-statist remarks and lack of OPSEC.

        It’s okay to be paranoid. They ARE out to get you. Blab about violence, firearms, and threats at your own peril.
        *Another thing they do is hack your camera. They recorded me doing things while watching risky porn, they told me. Luckily, I only had to pay $500 to them and they agreed to destroy the recording and not send it to everyone in my address book. I now only watch riskless porn…

        *I stole this story from someone else…believe me…I did.

        • Just use the free TOR Browser…your location cannot be determined, all data encrypted in both directions and cannot be read even if recorded. No history left behind. No one can see who you are, where you are or what data you are looking at or where it’s coming from, even porn.

        • Dude, that’s a well known scam.

          If you paid that ransom, you should expect more attempts soon because they know you pay.

          Most of those we caught you and will distribute the image to your address books are just address spoofing hacks. You have to look into the email metadata and call your provider, but 99% of the time they did not actually get access and they just merely trick the user into thinking they did with header and address from text spoofing.

          There is a succer born every minute. Why people purchase televisions and personal computer screens, even labtops with cameras included is one of the stupidest actions possible. Put a piece of tape on it, god it’s not rocket science.

          Get a paid subscription to MalwareBytes. It’s a stand alone program so it does not force you to swap anything other than virus, and does not interfere with other programs. But it does always seem to stop hijacking, ransomware, trojans, and basically acts like an all in 1 firewall virus and scanner. Surf with confidence, turn off all bluetooth at the administrative level, as well as desktop and remote assistance, at the administrative level.

          Control panel. Administrative tools. Component services. Services Local. Get on in there and just turn a lot of items off. Take careful notes of every change on paper so you can revert in safe mode if you cause conflicts. You should be safe to turn off all bluetooth, remote desktop, remote registry. Also apply redundant controls under system properties. Upgrade your modem and router already, geesh. Choose wired, not wireless.

      4. Technology is your friend. Used properly it can make life much easier. But you have to keep in mind that it can also be used against you. Anything you send out over the internet, you should consider is something the whole world can know.
        Even though this site is HTTPS and the internet data exchanges are encrypted so they can’t be easily “snooped” or intercepted, you have to worry about the endpoints,
        as the post writes about. Do you trust the entity you are contacting such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Apple, shtfplan, et al?
        Consider also that every website is operated for the benefit of the site owner and anything you send or receive, has some profit for the site owner. Consider that the next time you make a comment somewhere. It costs the site owner money to operate. How they make their money to operate is their business. The internet is not “free”.

        • The VPN game is beyond sellmy*** compromised. I’ve never used a VPN, because, who to trust? TOR is not a solution either, people whom are all about it actually hotglue wireless ports shut on their items and such, run everything through detailed encryption. There is nothing private on the internet. Run with the big company hardline coaxil broadband products and you’ll be much better protected through proxy, and volume.

          These days an overwhelming volume of people use gmail, yahoo, google, and similar non secure emails. That’s because they use mobile devices to set up cloud accounts. There is no help for them. The only security is on a personal computer or labtop, you simply don’t get security on mobiles and cellular, any mention of security is merely an illusion.

      5. Peeping Toms.

      6. I don’t trust any of those ‘smart’ products. I play it smart by not buying shit like that.

      7. ‘Smart’ devices will be the greatest Trojan horse in history. Parents are carrying them right through the front door. Every minute of their children’s lives will be subject to tracking, recording and surveillance. American parents are truly the useful idiots of today.

      8. Neil Postman was absolutely correct, we are ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’. This is an awesome short read.

      9. Tip number one:
        These spy cams are being put on rental properties, to watch ‘ghetto’ tenants, who, in my experience, will try to provoke you into fights on the camera. Embedded culture jihadists will weaponize anything, including the plot line from ‘Fight Club’. If you’re in one of these Special Ed, ‘Opportunity Zone’ neighborhoods, you are more likely to see it.

        (If you don’t like this comment, you were an albatross put around the neck of a higher order of life.)

        Tip number two:
        I am not saying to bet your legal standing on just these two tips, alone, but recent models emit a blue light, when in use. There are backlights and LED’s on many of these cams, displayed prominently-enough for everyone to see it and self-censor, if you have any kind of emotional filter.

        (Prison-like people do prison-like atrocities, knowing full well they are on the camera. Watch it, for free, online. It is not a magical forcefield to keep you safe from conniving monkeyshines who may just as well use the cam to publish their conquests as to lure the innocent into legal troubles.)

        Chinese rioters have successfully blinded photosensors with laser pointers.

        Also, any noise, loud enough, and at the correct frequency, would be jamming. They emit rf bands, easily detected by the general public, with no serious investment of time or money.

        However, grammar school level robotics projects from 30ish yrs ago would have been able to track the source of a noise, if you are feeling creative, playful, and the money was burning a hole in your pocket.

        I don’t personally have a problem with slavery, a mudsill class, or sumptuary laws, assuming that they are not in favor of a khakistocracy or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Usually, though, you have protected some kind of hominid who should not be seen in public without a minder.

        • Genius commentary, over so many peoples heads.

          Oh give it a rest though, savages will do, what savages do.

          I continue to ask exactly where people can buy a laser which will permanently destroy the optics within street cameras popping up everywhere.

          Hong Kongers are actively pulling down surveillance camera’s over there. Damn, we need more of those guys over here! DOWN WITH PUBLIC SPACES CAMERAS! If tyranny comes here, people will have to do innovative things like fill paintball pellets with caustic glass etcher and shoot them at the camer’as. That or get really long clippers to clip those wires. So sick of traffic cameras, absolutely disgusting abuse of city and municipal authority.

          If 5g towers pop up in our residential suburbia environment, we’re vacating to a more mountainous area where that can’t happen. Got to feel bad for the flatlanders, they need to mobilize against 5g now, they will have no escape for miles and miles and miles.

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