Is your phone listening to you?: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — Do you ever feel like your smartphone is listening to you? While it might seem like your phone is always listening, Consumer Reports says that’s probably not what’s happening.

This is something that researchers have looked at a lot. And despite all those weird feelings, they’ve yet to find any evidence that phones and the apps on them are actually recording or listening to your conversations.

So what’s going on? CR says your phone has much more efficient ways to figure out what you’re talking about and what you’re interested in than recording a conversation.

Researchers have found that apps on phones will do things like take screenshots or use the GPS function to track where you’re going. Or even collect video of what you’re doing on your phone. And all of this can be used to create targeted ads.

So how do you explain having a conversation about something and then seeing an ad for it on your phone?

Chances are you probably did a Google search for those shoes. Or maybe you mapped out directions to a shoe store.

The amount of data companies have on us is staggering. But Consumer Reports says one way to limit the access they have is to avoid using the universal sign-on features offered by Google and Facebook.

Also monitor the permissions you give each app on your phone. For example, if an app doesn’t need to know your location, consider taking away its access to that information.

Apple is focusing on digital privacy with its latest operating system. Several new features, including its own sign-on service, are designed to give consumers more power over how much of their information they share.

Not sure how to check your phone’s permissions? We’ve posted a step-by-step video below.

Digital Extra: Limit how much you are tracked

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