I am getting weary about hearing of all the ways that our devices are spying on us. The main ways in which we give away information are the sites that we visit and the searches we make. But we know about those and have grudgingly come to accept them as facts of life and the price we pay for the conveniences they provide. But there are other, more disturbing aspects, like that the cameras and the microphones on our devices may be surreptitiously recording us.
If you think your smartphone is spying on you, you’re probably right.
Apps are designed to track your moves, and your phone’s microphone can be picking up your conversations.
So if you’re suddenly bombarded with ads on your social media for things you’ve never searched for but have spoken about, it’s no coincidence.
It’s simple to check your device for which apps have access to the phone’s microphone or camera.
Open settings, tap “privacy”, tap “microphone” or “camera” in the privacy menu, and on the next page, you can view which apps have access and you can toggle the access off.
That can help stop your phone from listening to your conversations.
Apple is also expected to introduce within the coming weeks new pop-ups that will alert phone users to whether an app is tracking them.
Facebook says data collection is needed to make user experiences better but if a user opts not to allow an app such as Facebook to track them, then Apple will prevent the app from doing so.
The new feature has been controversial among tech giants but will no doubt be welcomed by smartphone users.
This article goes into more detail about what options are available for all the varieties of smartphones out there.
Like many ordinary users, there is a limit to how much effort I am willing to put into preventing this kind of spying. This is partly out of a sense that I am hopelessly outmatched and that whatever preventative measures I take, the other side can get past them, and partly out of the sense that my life is so ordinary that I cannot see that anyone would find anything more than the mildly embarrassing. My only hope is for action at the governmental level to prevent such things. So apart from covering the camera lens when I am not using it, which is easy to do and I rarely use the camera anyway, I do not do anything else.