Not so much about smart speakers but they are part of this “listening in” problem. It has now been made evident hat MS workers have been listening to the calls on Skype and Cortana queries similar to the Google process in my post above this one. The data again is at times very private/intimate. Apple & Google have recently suspended the practice of using human transcribers for the moment amid the privacy concerns this issue has raised:
To read about the Microsoft issue see:
The Skype issue seems a bit more of concern as it appears that some of this listening is done on “live” conversations as this excerpt from another article states: “While that’s largely the case, a contractor who spoke to publication “Motherboard” says that in some cases humans are used to improve the service. They will hear a five-to-ten second clip from the conversation, be shown several possible translations suggested by the automated system, and select the best. They will do this almost instantly and the selected translation is then sent to the person at the other end of the call, quickly enough that it appears entirely automatic [my highlight]”.
Has enough privacy safety been built in to these services and the use of these devices? Has legislation been keeping up with IT developments to ensure consumer protection? Are the companies policies and terms and conditions as transparent and understandable to a common person as they need to be? What to me appears to be the obvious answers are to all 3 no they are not! Thus are these Smart Devices safe to use for consumers? From a point of view of physical safety perhaps they somewhat are eg no electrocution. From a more privacy point of view no they aren’t and the results of abuse of the data collected could indeed end up with physical, financial, and Social consequences.
Similar to the HealthEngine issue currently being talked about on this site this misuse of data could be explosive to many in the wrong hands, it may be used for financial and marketing gain by those who obtain the data beyond the terms the consumer/user thought they had agreed to when they used the service.
Do the CHOICE reviews need to start weighing the privacy concerns when giving ratings to these types of smart devices? Are the T&Cs of use something that needs dissecting/interpreting as well to see if a device really is “safe” to use. Examples that might need looking at if these are concerns would be IoT devices, Connected “Smart” Fridges, Tv’s, Smart Phones, Tablets, Home systems that help to control everything in the home remotely, Baby monitors that are web connected via apps, security systems that are similarly connected.
Is it something that CHOICE can make recommendations to enhance the clarity of T&Cs and software/apps when they find them lacking, provide feedback to the producers and users of the tech to ensure better outcomes eg via direct contact or via Social Media, submit faulty T&Cs to the ACCC for legislative and business change to the protections similar to the Lemon Law campaign.