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‘How is that legal?’ You’re not crazy. Despite denials, our smartphones are actually always listening to us

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Despite repeated denials by tech industries, research appears to back claims that smartphones actually listen in on people’s conversations.

Brett Larson, the morning anchor on Fox News Headlines 24/7 on SiriusXM, confirmed the reports that advertisers are literally hanging on your words.

“The phone doesn’t just track where you go,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said in an ‘Inside the Issues’ segment Friday. “It can also listen in on your conversations, your in-person conversations, and use them to decide which ads you see online.”

“I know this can’t be true because we’ve used this for a long time but the industry has denied it repeatedly,” Carlson said tongue-in-cheek. “But you are saying it is real?”

“They have denied, denied, denied but every time someone sits down and researches it seems it is actually happening,” Larson replied. “That the conversations that you are having in front of your smart phones are being listened to and then advertisements appropriate to the conversations you had will pop up the next time you go online.”

“How is that legal?” an incredulous Carlson asked.

Larson explained that the “end user agreements that we click through and don’t pay attention” could hold the key as application users agree to things they may not necessarily understand.

“For what we know it could be buried in there but it could be buried in there in such a way that you don’t really understand what they are saying,” Larson said.

“Most of us dismiss it like there is no way that can be happening,” he said. “Other researchers have found a lot of these apps are actually listening to us and they’re also paying attention to how we interact with the app.”

Larson contends that the tech companies are “going to excuse it away” as just their way of making the app a “better user experience.”

“Phones are listening for that magic word,” Larson continued. “In order for my phone to hear me say that, it’s got to be listening to me all the time. So it’s a matter of what other apps are also listening and what their trigger words are to get them to start paying attention.”

Larson offered a parting bit of advice.

“My advice would be turn the phone off if you are bringing it in the bedroom because it is probably listening to you,” he said.  “I’m not trying to sound alarmist. I’m just trying to be realistic.”

“You are the opposite of an alarmist,” Carlson quipped. “I’m alarmed and terrified and upset that Congress doesn’t care enough to do something about it.”

Frieda Powers

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