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You might be surprised by how much your smart speaker is listening to

If you want to set up a voice-activated home, you’ll need a smart speaker. These devices can do anything from play music and podcasts to manage your smart home.

To the point that Amazon’s Alexa-enabled gadgets accounted for around one-third of the world’s total shipment volume in the first three months of 2022.

Worrying research has been unearthed by VPNOverview, however, suggesting that your smart speaker may be gathering more information about you than you think.

The ever-listening nature of smart speakers

When you use a smart speaker, it is always listening to you (unless you turn off that feature, which defeats the purpose), and it is often able to record or transcribe what you say so that its creators can make it more smarter.

Many users will have allowed third-party integrations that allow them to engage with a variety of services, from linked vehicles to meal ordering applications and just about everything in between, despite claims of limited data gathering and high levels of security made by Amazon, Google, and Apple.

According to VPNOverview, “some of these third-party capabilities are not fully vetted,” leaving users vulnerable to data breaches and other forms of cyberattack. Turning on a virtual private network (VPN) can lessen some of these dangers.

The corporation also expressed worry about the fact that certain smart speakers may make in-device internet transactions. Again, many people don’t see the benefit in having an enabled device if they have to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) to make purchases.

Finally, it is observed that consumers often choose convenience above privacy, practically making many of the precautions that businesses put in place ineffective.

Google claims it does not save any audio recordings on its servers by default. In the cloud, users’ voice recordings and transcripts are safe from prying eyes, according to Amazon. Apple claims it only keeps a minimal amount of data for a period of six months. We contacted all three brands to get their input on how smart speaker users may safeguard their information.

In regards to privacy and security, Apple sent us to its HomePod privacy and security page (opens in new tab), Amazon sent us to its explainer page (opens in new tab) and frequently asked questions page (opens in new tab), and Google sent us to its privacy information page (opens in new tab) and guide of actionable steps users can take (opens in new tab).