New iOS 14 feature warns you if someone is spying on you through your iPhone

scojer

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The latest update tells you when apps are listening to you, or, watching you. I don't have an iPhone, but on my android, I have very few apps, and, the ones I do have I have already set their permission levels to make myself feel better.

article said:
Released this week, iOS 14 displays a small orange dot at the top corner of the iPhone's display to let users know their microphone is activated.

The small but noticeable dot appears just above the signal bars and next to the battery indicator.

It switches to dark green when the camera is activated too, telling iPhone users that apps are 'watching'.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/science...te-displays-orange-dot-warn-listening-in.html
 

Mchart

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Permissions on either platform won’t change the fact that while you may knowingly give an app camera/mic access - there have been instances where apps use these at times when they shouldn’t be. This shows people if an app is being dirty.
 

scojer

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Permissions on either platform won’t change the fact that while you may knowingly give an app camera/mic access - there have been instances where apps use these at times when they shouldn’t be. This shows people if an app is being dirty.

I know it's mostly a placebo effect, but I still do it.

I have denied background data usage to almost every app, turned off permissions that they don't need to function, and, when I'm not actively using my phone, it's in another room.

Mostly, it's in another room to just not be on it all the time. Life is so much better when I'm not endlessly browsing the web, and I only use it when I NEED to use it.

Leaves more time for other things.
 

Lakados

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Permissions on either platform won’t change the fact that while you may knowingly give an app camera/mic access - there have been instances where apps use these at times when they shouldn’t be. This shows people if an app is being dirty.
Or a website, brief look at the network logs has so much add traffic funneling data back to Chinese IP's, so much so that I created a rule to block all traffic routed back to a Chinese IP address and within minutes of implementing that I had so many calls coming in of pages that have stopped working correctly or sites not loading because there was an add blocker running that management had to issue a statement. Worked so well we tossed Russia, India, and Pakistan into the geo block list for outgoing traffic since doing that outgoing add traffic is down by more than half and there was a noticeable drop in our weekly outbound traffic usage as well.
 

OutOfPhase

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I feel my [H]ardForum cache is enough to make a would-be agent just raise their hands and say "NEVERMIND".
 

Nobu

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Does the dot appear when Apple is listening or watching?
Wouldn't be a very useful feature if it was on all the time. ;)

Would be nice if you could just globally disable the mic and cam. You can put a cover on the camera, but the mic is still there...
 

Aurelius

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Does the dot appear when Apple is listening or watching?

I'm pretty sure it's not listening or watching.

It's funny, many of the same people who make jokes like this also run straight into the arms of Google and Microsoft... you know, the companies that are known to constantly track user data. (I don't think that's as scary as some believe, but there's a tremendous irony to it.)
 

tom_ozahoski

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I'm pretty sure it's not listening or watching.

It's funny, many of the same people who make jokes like this also run straight into the arms of Google and Microsoft... you know, the companies that are known to constantly track user data. (I don't think that's as scary as some believe, but there's a tremendous irony to it.)

No, It is always listening. That's how Siri works.

And yes there are two typical mobile choices, Evil Apple or Evil Google. It's all shit and we've sold our souls to the devil for convenience. And Microsoft? They are willing to pay you for taking your data at least, LOL.
 

Aurelius

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No, It is always listening. That's how Siri works.

And yes there are two typical mobile choices, Evil Apple or Evil Google. It's all shit and we've sold our souls to the devil for convenience. And Microsoft? They are willing to pay you for taking your data at least, LOL.

Actually, no, that's not how it works.

No voice assistant is actively listening to everything you're saying. The system waits for a waveform that matches the wake command ("hey Siri," "Alexa," "hey Google") before it starts actively recording, and it halts recording shortly after you stop speaking. It doesn't know what you're saying until that moment. Keep in mind, this is demonstrably true — it would be ridiculously easy to sniff packets and determine if an iPhone was constantly sending voice data.

Also, please don't equivocate. Apple does some dodgy things, but we're talking about privacy here; that's an area where Apple is clearly stricter than Google or Microsoft. Hell, remember how Facebook recently complained that Apple was limiting ad targeting in iOS 14? To abuse car analogies, it's like making fun of a hybrid for poor fuel efficiency before hopping into a gas-guzzling SUV.
 

tom_ozahoski

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The system waits for a waveform that matches the wake command

That's listening. Maybe not sending back everything to the mothership (recording) but its listening. Often times Siri or Google or Alexa can be inadvertently activated and it is then actively recording. All this data is sent back and analyzed.

Here's an article about Siri but this applies to all of them more or less.

I'm not singling out any one platform. It's just how they operate.

Edit: missing word
 

Aurelius

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That's listening. Maybe not sending back everything to the mothership (recording) but its listening. Often times Siri or Google or Alexa can be inadvertently activated and it is then actively recording. All this data is sent back and analyzed.

Here's an article about Siri but this applies to all of them more or less.

I'm not singling out any one platform. It's just how they operate.

Edit: missing word

That's... really not explaining things the way you think it does.

Let me be explicit: your device doesn't know what you're saying until the moment you say the wake words. You could shout the most sensitive details of your life before you say "hey Siri" and neither your device nor Apple would even realize you mentioned them, let alone take action on them. Accidental recording has been an issue, but that's more a limitation of the detection systems, not a sinister plot on the part of tech companies.

In that sense, it's not so much listening as hearing -- that is, a passive experience that doesn't try to make sense of anything until there's a reason to listen.

This is what's frustrating about discussing privacy these days. There are serious privacy concerns, but many people base their fears on basic misunderstandings of how the technology works that are driven more by fear than facts. It's easier to cry "all of them are spying on you all the time" than to accept the nuanced truth that it's not as bad as you think, and that some companies treat privacy differently than others.
 

blackmomba

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That's... really not explaining things the way you think it does.

Let me be explicit: your device doesn't know what you're saying until the moment you say the wake words. You could shout the most sensitive details of your life before you say "hey Siri" and neither your device nor Apple would even realize you mentioned them, let alone take action on them. Accidental recording has been an issue, but that's more a limitation of the detection systems, not a sinister plot on the part of tech companies.

In that sense, it's not so much listening as hearing -- that is, a passive experience that doesn't try to make sense of anything until there's a reason to listen.

This is what's frustrating about discussing privacy these days. There are serious privacy concerns, but many people base their fears on basic misunderstandings of how the technology works that are driven more by fear than facts. It's easier to cry "all of them are spying on you all the time" than to accept the nuanced truth that it's not as bad as you think, and that some companies treat privacy differently than others.

Without the source code, you can't affirm anything. "That's not how it works" isn't enough an explanation
 

86 5.0L

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Does the dot appear when Apple is listening or watching?

yes it does 😂

523D127C-5E82-4572-8BBA-8AB29CD5C18C.jpeg
 

Red Falcon

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Actually, no, that's not how it works.

No voice assistant is actively listening to everything you're saying. The system waits for a waveform that matches the wake command ("hey Siri," "Alexa," "hey Google") before it starts actively recording, and it halts recording shortly after you stop speaking. It doesn't know what you're saying until that moment. Keep in mind, this is demonstrably true — it would be ridiculously easy to sniff packets and determine if an iPhone was constantly sending voice data.
The Amazon Alexa has absolutely been proven to listen and record 100% of the time.
Android and Apple mobile devices most likely listen 100% of the time.

These devices do not report a "stream of data" 100% of the time, though, and things are far more subtle than that.
This isn't a conspiracy, and it has been proven time and time again - it isn't 2008, it's 2020, and time to see the forest through the trees.

Also, please don't equivocate. Apple does some dodgy things, but we're talking about privacy here; that's an area where Apple is clearly stricter than Google or Microsoft. Hell, remember how Facebook recently complained that Apple was limiting ad targeting in iOS 14? To abuse car analogies, it's like making fun of a hybrid for poor fuel efficiency before hopping into a gas-guzzling SUV.
You are correct here, for the moment, but that Apple policy could change tomorrow.
These are megacorps we are talking about, so bottom line, take everything they state with a grain of salt.
 

Aurelius

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Without the source code, you can't affirm anything. "That's not how it works" isn't enough an explanation

That's just not true. Audio traffic consumes a whole lot more data, and you'd still likely notice a never-ending stream of transcription data even if the processing happens locally.
 

Aurelius

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The Amazon Alexa has absolutely been proven to listen and record 100% of the time.
Android and Apple mobile devices most likely listen 100% of the time.

These devices do not report a "stream of data" 100% of the time, though, and things are far more subtle than that.
This isn't a conspiracy, and it has been proven time and time again - it isn't 2008, it's 2020, and time to see the forest through the trees.

No, actually, it hasn't been proven. There was an exploit that could lead to always-on recording, but everything I've seen (and I've been searching) indicates that Amazon isn't recording around the clock or otherwise understanding what you say before you use your wake words. As it stands, that fantasy doesn't make sense — even if Amazon didn't store any recordings, it would need an unrealistically huge amount of computing power to process data from hundreds of millions of Alexa devices (there are over 100 million Echo devices alone) sending info 24/7.

You are correct here, for the moment, but that Apple policy could change tomorrow.
These are megacorps we are talking about, so bottom line, take everything they state with a grain of salt.

And if it changes, I'll reconsider my product choices. But I'm not going to operate on theoreticals; I'm going to operate on the current policy. And throwing support behind a company that uses privacy as a hook could encourage other companies to follow suit.
 

blackmomba

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That's just not true. Audio traffic consumes a whole lot more data, and you'd still likely notice a never-ending stream of transcription data even if the processing happens locally.

Makes too many assumptions, like you're assuming it all needs to be sent back in real time which isn't necessary depending on the goals.
 

Aurelius

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Makes too many assumptions, like you're assuming it all needs to be sent back in real time which isn't necessary depending on the goals.

You'd still notice blips that aren't connected to other tasks, though. And if Amazon went out of its way to hide the activity... well, we'd have much bigger problems than whether or not it's targeting ads based on overheard conversations.
 

Red Falcon

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No, actually, it hasn't been proven. There was an exploit that could lead to always-on recording, but everything I've seen (and I've been searching) indicates that Amazon isn't recording around the clock or otherwise understanding what you say before you use your wake words. As it stands, that fantasy doesn't make sense — even if Amazon didn't store any recordings, it would need an unrealistically huge amount of computing power to process data from hundreds of millions of Alexa devices (there are over 100 million Echo devices alone) sending info 24/7.
Do you think recordings need to be stored in full raw audio without any compression or algorithms at all?
Again, this isn't 2008, it's 2020, and your thinking on all of this is extremely dated as to how things are done now, and have been done for the last decade.

A single RTX 3090 GPU has nearly 30 TFLOPS of FP32 computational processing power in a 350 watt TDP, and could easily handle a LOT of these data sets being returned at various intervals - let alone an entire rack full of them, let alone an entire data center full of racks of them.
Also, you sure didn't look very hard... :meh:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccu...l-the-time-heres-how-to-stop-it/#6bf93855e2d2

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6910791/Alexa-listening-conversations.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/how-to-stop-amazon-from-listening-to-what-you-say-to-alexa.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanba...-to-your-conversations-analysis/#68b04e9d2378
 

Aurelius

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Do you think recordings need to be stored in full raw audio without any compression or algorithms at all?
Again, this isn't 2008, it's 2020, and your thinking on all of this is extremely dated as to how things are done now, and have been done for the last decade.

A single RTX 3090 GPU has nearly 30 TFLOPS of FP32 computational processing power in a 350 watt TDP, and could easily handle a LOT of these data sets being returned at various intervals - let alone an entire rack full of them, let alone an entire data center full of racks of them.
Also, you sure didn't look very hard... :meh:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccu...l-the-time-heres-how-to-stop-it/#6bf93855e2d2

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6910791/Alexa-listening-conversations.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/how-to-stop-amazon-from-listening-to-what-you-say-to-alexa.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanba...-to-your-conversations-analysis/#68b04e9d2378

Did you actually read any of those articles, or did you just skim the headlines? Not one of them says Alexa is always recording. They note that the devices are waiting for wake words (again, just looking for a waveform, not really "listening"), but their actual concerns are that Amazon workers are listening to recordings, including ones where Alexa accidentally heard wake words. There's a big difference between that and recording 24/7.

Please stop with your condescending "it's 2020" crap. I know damn well it's 2020, and what audio compression is. It still remains true that hundreds of millions of devices recording audio 24/7 would demand a massive amount of bandwidth and computational power, even if it's only sent in staggered bursts. And again, it doesn't even really make sense — Amazon, Apple and Google would be wasting resources on data that's almost entirely garbage, and it would be patently obvious if they were tailoring recommendations and ads to overheard conversations.

Also, you do know the RTX 3090 is only just hitting the market, right? And if Amazon/Apple/Google really were recording everything (they're not), they wouldn't have had nearly as much performance evenif they had data centers full of PCs with Quadro or Tesla cards? And if that was enough... you'd still need to show that the companies actually had those servers in place and were using them for non-stop recording.

Like I said: it's frustrating that people base their fears on basic misunderstandings of how tech works. And in your case, basic failures of reading comprehension and logic.
 

Red Falcon

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Did you actually read any of those articles, or did you just skim the headlines? Not one of them says Alexa is always recording. They note that the devices are waiting for wake words (again, just looking for a waveform, not really "listening"), but their actual concerns are that Amazon workers are listening to recordings, including ones where Alexa accidentally heard wake words. There's a big difference between that and recording 24/7.

Please stop with your condescending "it's 2020" crap. I know damn well it's 2020, and what audio compression is. It still remains true that hundreds of millions of devices recording audio 24/7 would demand a massive amount of bandwidth and computational power, even if it's only sent in staggered bursts. And again, it doesn't even really make sense — Amazon, Apple and Google would be wasting resources on data that's almost entirely garbage, and it would be patently obvious if they were tailoring recommendations and ads to overheard conversations.

Also, you do know the RTX 3090 is only just hitting the market, right? And if Amazon/Apple/Google really were recording everything (they're not), they wouldn't have had nearly as much performance evenif they had data centers full of PCs with Quadro or Tesla cards? And if that was enough... you'd still need to show that the companies actually had those servers in place and were using them for non-stop recording.

Like I said: it's frustrating that people base their fears on basic misunderstandings of how tech works. And in your case, basic failures of reading comprehension and logic.
The reason I keep saying it is "2020" is because you keep treating the situation like this is a new concept with a 2008 mentality of "that couldn't possibly happen", even though it is very much a real thing and hardly a "conspiracy", lol.
Yep, I'm aware of that, and I'm also aware that the last generation was capable of nearly 20 TFLOPS of FP32, which would have still got the job done in the exact same scenario, and hell, even CPU-only data processing would have been able to complete the task.

Believe whatever makes you happy.
 

Aurelius

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The reason I keep saying it is "2020" is because you keep treating the situation like this is a new concept with a 2008 mentality of "that couldn't possibly happen", even though it is very much a real thing and hardly a "conspiracy", lol.
Yep, I'm aware of that, and I'm also aware that the last generation was capable of nearly 20 TFLOPS of FP32, which would have still got the job done in the exact same scenario, and hell, even CPU-only data processing would have been able to complete the task.

Believe whatever makes you happy.

I believe in evidence and logic... oh, and actually reading articles. You can cling to "what if" speculation and theories all you want, but without proof, you have nothing.
 
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blackmomba

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I believe in evidence and logic... oh, and actually reading articles. You can cling to "what if" speculation and theories all you want, but without proof, you have nothing.

It's ok to be skeptical and not take everything at face value. No one's clinging I don't think. With these relatively new IoT devices and the practices that revolve around data collection, for me, the only real evidence is in the source code or from the engineering teams that write it. We won't be getting that anytime soon so again, for me, Ill continue to assume the worst about all faceless megacorps
 

Aurelius

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It's ok to be skeptical and not take everything at face value. No one's clinging I don't think. With these relatively new IoT devices and the practices that revolve around data collection, for me, the only real evidence is in the source code or from the engineering teams that write it. We won't be getting that anytime soon so again, for me, Ill continue to assume the worst about all faceless megacorps

There's a difference between skeptical and either misunderstanding what's going on or indulging in wild speculation. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as the saying goes, and so far there's no evidence to suggest these voice assistant giants are recording absolutely everything. If you don't have that evidence, you don't make the claim — especially when there's countering evidence suggesting it isn't happening (lack of device traffic, descriptions of how the technology works, and the logistical challenges of such a feat).

Think of it like you would a scientific theory. Yes, you can be wary about accepting a theory blindly, but you can't simply claim that it's wrong without solid evidence of your own. Otherwise, you have to operate using the theory with the strongest support. There is a large amount of evidence to suggest Apple et. al. aren't recording users non-stop, and no real evidence to suggest they are; therefore, we should assume they're telling the truth unless someone can provide proof to the contrary.
 
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blackmomba

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There's a difference between skeptical and either misunderstanding what's going on or indulging in wild speculation. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as the saying goes, and so far there's no evidence to suggest these voice assistant giants are recording absolutely everything. If you don't have that evidence, you don't make the claim — especially when there's countering evidence suggesting it isn't happening (lack of device traffic, descriptions of how the technology works, and the logistical challenges of such a feat).

Think of it like you would a scientific theory. Yes, you can be wary about accepting a theory blindly, but you can't simply claim that it's wrong without solid evidence of your own. Otherwise, you have to operate using the theory with the strongest support. There is a large amount of evidence to suggest Apple et. al. aren't recording users non-stop, and no real evidence to suggest they are; therefore, we should assume they're telling the truth unless someone can provide proof to the contrary.

Go back and read the thread. The only person making definitive claims is you.

I don't need to provide evidence, Im only sharing my opinion that the real evidence is in the source code, code that most of us simpletons will never see. you seem to believe that without seeing any of it you can still successfully make definitive claims about exactly what a piece of software is doing. I don't.

That's where this is going to end for me
 

Aurelius

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Go back and read the thread. The only person making definitive claims is you.

I don't need to provide evidence, Im only sharing my opinion that the real evidence is in the source code, code that most of us simpletons will never see. you seem to believe that without seeing any of it you can still successfully make definitive claims about exactly what a piece of software is doing. I don't.

That's where this is going to end for me

I know you won't reply, and that's alright, but let's put it this way: I'm making the claims I am because the evidence skews heavily toward that. And in some cases, Red Falcon is making demonstrably false statements (for example, incorrectly asserting that those articles are 'proof' Alexa is recording all the time). It's pretty difficult to believe someone who gets basic facts wrong.
 

blackmomba

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I know you won't reply, and that's alright, but let's put it this way: I'm making the claims I am because the evidence skews heavily toward that. And in some cases, Red Falcon is making demonstrably false statements (for example, incorrectly asserting that those articles are 'proof' Alexa is recording all the time). It's pretty difficult to believe someone who gets basic facts wrong.

I hear you, and we've agreed on things before I think.. so I respect your opinion and hope we can continue to exchange amicably in the future.
 

zehoo

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Coincidentally a week after I covered my iPad front camera, Tim Cook put out that press release telling people not to cover up their cameras or risk damaging the screens.
 

Grimlakin

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No, actually, it hasn't been proven. There was an exploit that could lead to always-on recording, but everything I've seen (and I've been searching) indicates that Amazon isn't recording around the clock or otherwise understanding what you say before you use your wake words. As it stands, that fantasy doesn't make sense — even if Amazon didn't store any recordings, it would need an unrealistically huge amount of computing power to process data from hundreds of millions of Alexa devices (there are over 100 million Echo devices alone) sending info 24/7.



And if it changes, I'll reconsider my product choices. But I'm not going to operate on theoreticals; I'm going to operate on the current policy. And throwing support behind a company that uses privacy as a hook could encourage other companies to follow suit.


Amazon alexa devices must have more memory resident than we know.

They can listen for things like...
Fire
Glass break
Home alarms
Fire alarms
The word alexa, computer or other option being spoken...

And even differentiate between a window breaking a drinking glass break.. all locally...

The real answer is the default alexa isn't listening all the time. But with skills enabled it easily can be and talking back to the data centers they are linked to.

Same with any digital voice based assistant. Once you add in some skills by a third party the gloves are literally off.. and you may be streaming data to destinations you never intended.
 
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