Does Google spy on our cell phone conversations?

Supporters of tech giants say they would never, ever invade our privacy

I was watching an interesting YouTube video a few weeks ago, that, at first blush, surprised me, but the more I thought about, the less shocked I actually was.

The video was made by a young fellow who spends a lot of time on his cell phone. His phone is an Android which is essentially owned by gigantic tech company Google.

The fellow claims he was talking to various friends on his Android phone about various products, places, things and events. Thinking nothing of the conversations, he noticed over the next few days most if not all of the things he mentioned in his conversations were showing up as Google advertisements on internet pages he was reading. Coincidence? He doesn’t think so.

Could it be possible Google, through its Android phone, was eavesdropping (spying) on his conversation, then sending him advertisements based on “key words” Google had heard?

Some supporters of Google claim the gigantic company wouldn’t dream of spying on people to make money. Completely beyond the realm of possibility, they claim. Others claim Google uses computer algorithms to analyze language and direct advertising towards cell phone users based on comments they’ve made.

Website Quora published an article in 2016 that stated, “It is found that Google can record the conversations of people who are around the devices. The company quietly records many of the conversations that people have around its products. … Google could have a record of everything you have said around it for years, and you can listen to it yourself.”

While some people claim Google isn’t spying on us while others say the same thing while also stating “Google records our conversations,” spying on conversations with modern technology is common and done by governments allover the world. Anti-government lobbyists for years have claimed the United States government’s NSA has some of the best spying technology in the world which is capable of intercepting phone calls all over the globe, and recording the conversations for agents to eavesdrop on.

Supporters of the NSA note they only spy on things like criminal conspiracies and terrorist organizations, although it’s been proven some government eavesdropping involved theft or interception of private business secrets.

The subject has come up in my job as well. Police scanners and such technology has sometimes been criticized as being invasive. However, a court case held in British Columbia some years ago upheld eavesdropping to a certain extent.

It turned out a journalist and elected official were having some sort of elicit affair, and their phone calls were intercepted and used against them. It was later ruled that anyone can listen to the airwaves, as the airwaves are nobody’s property.

However, any conversation you hear on those airwaves is the property of the people involved, and if you repeat it, you’d better get the permission of those involved.

This might be the crux of what the tech companies are doing by spying on us and directing certain marketing our way. Their way of thought might be, “We’re not repeating your conversation, we’re just sending you a few suggestions based on your comments that we thought you might be interested in.”

Probably not long now before they’re beaming signals directly into our brains to let us know about long distance savings.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

Just Posted

Magnetos Car Club ready to shine at annual car show and cruise

For the 19th year in a row, featured cars will line Main Street on June 8th

Music in the Park kicks off in June

In just a few short weeks, great tunes will be heard in West Stettler Park

Ellis Bird Farm opens 2019 with book unveil of Charlie, Winnie and the Bluebirds

Site Manager Myrna Pearman documented the history of central Alberta’s natural treasure

Popular downtown initiative bolsters Stettler Food Bank donations

Wells Furniture and Brenda’s Cozy Cafe are gearing up for the third annual Food Bank Drive May 29th, 30th and 31st

‘Stop Order’ issued to Paradise Shores

According to the County, staff will continue to communicate and work with the developer

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Justin Trudeau credits immigration for Canada’s growing tech sector

Trudeau stressed that Canada has become a major source of talent for tech all over the world

Feds launch tourism strategy designed to boost sector 25 per cent by 2025

The fund is supposed to back experiences that show off Canada’s strengths

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially Sunday

Most Read