A Study Concludes That Your Phone Is Not Recording Your Voice All The Time


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Many people are paranoid that their phones are recording them secretly. A team of researchers from Northeastern University has found no evidence that your phone might be recording you to show targeted ads. The study was conducted for a year and then the researchers specifically tested the theory that phones record their users. This theory gained so much popularity that Mark Zuckerberg had to explain about the myth during his appearance before Congress a few months ago.

The phone itself doesn’t record anything that is going on, the Northeastern University team found that the phones can record a user’s screen and send the data to interested third parties. The researchers watched 17260 of the most popular Android apps. This included the apps which were sending the information to social media including Facebook. The team used an automatic program which worked with the apps. They also kept a check on the media files which were being sent to these third-party groups.

The team also found which apps had the permission to access the camera and microphone. Those were the apps which were able to overhear a user’s need for a new pair of shoes or how much they love to see a movie. Among the 17260 apps, not a single of them sent the audio files and turned on the microphone. The study also noted its limitations and doesn’t state that phones never record their users. The researchers said that they couldn’t find evidence of the activity taking place.

The researchers identified a few apps which were responsible for screen sharing. The apps sent screenshots to third-party domains. One app, GoPuff, sent a lot of information to an analytics company. Appsee acknowledges its ability to record how people use an app. It was noted that GoPuff did not disclose that a user’s behavior was being tracked in its privacy policy. Google shared its reviews on the issue saying, “We always appreciate the research community’s hard work to help improve online privacy and security practices. After reviewing the researchers’ findings, we determined that a part of AppSee’s services may put some developers at risk of violating Play policy. We’re working closely with them to help ensure developers appropriately communicate the SDK’s functionality with their apps’ end-users”.

The safest thing any user can do is to limit the number of third-party apps in their phone. Users should also read the privacy policy as often as they can. The researchers from Northeastern University will present their work at a privacy symposium in Barcelona in the coming month. They will share the details of the study in great detail during the symposium.

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