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Cybersecurity reveals what data your smart speaker is really collecting

Smart devices have become a modern home essential, allowing for seamless integration with household appliances and providing better experiences with the products you already own. However, the convenience of a smart speaker may come at the price of your privacy so I take a look at what data your smart speaker is really collecting.

In 2022, France, Germany and the UK, recorded 3.6 million smart speaker shipments, with Amazon Echo devices representing about 80% of shipments.

Many homes have multiple devices, one in the sitting room, one in the bedroom. Smart speakers with displays have encouraged prominence in the kitchen also enabling recipe videos and video calls. They also have the ability to purchase things, again making the convenient in the kitchen when you need to order more of something that’s just run out.

What data your smart speaker is really collecting

However, with this convenience comes the issue of data privacy. These devices are always listening, and the data they collect can reveal a lot about you and your habits.

One of the main sources of data collection is voice recordings. Every time you use a smart speaker, it records your voice commands and sends them to the manufacturer’s servers for analysis. This data can be used to improve the accuracy of the device’s speech recognition and to provide more personalized responses. However, it also means that companies such as Amazon and Google have access to a wealth of information about what you say in your home, including sensitive information such as financial and health-related data.

Another source of data collection is location data. Smart speakers are equipped with GPS or other location tracking technologies, which allow them to know where you are in your home. This data can be used to provide location-based services and improve the device’s performance. However, it also means that companies know exactly where you are at all times, which raises serious privacy concerns.

echo show stand

Smart speakers also collect data on your search and purchasing history. The device keeps track of everything you search for and purchase using voice commands, which can be used to create a detailed profile of your preferences and interests. This data can be used for targeted advertising and to provide recommendations for future purchases. However, it also means that companies know what you’re interested in and what you’re buying, which can be a concern for those who value their privacy.

In addition to collecting data on what you say and do, smart speakers also collect information on your smart home devices. The devices are often integrated with other smart home devices, such as lighting and heating systems, which can provide a wealth of information about your habits and routines. This data can be used to improve the performance of the smart speaker and other devices, but it also means that companies have access to information about when you’re home and when you’re not, which can be a concern for privacy.

Finally, smart speakers also collect data on your music and media habits. They keep track of what music and media you listen to and watch, which can be used to provide personalized recommendations. However, it also means that companies know what you’re listening to and watching, which can be a concern for those who value their privacy.

Is Your Smart Speaker Data Shared?

Many users assume their data is only collected by first-party developers (Amazon/Google/Apple etc.). Certain commands and skills of the speaker are actually created by third-party developers. When you download and utilise a “skill” on the smart speaker the data, as well as other account information can be given to third-party developers creating a further risk.

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In Conclusion

While looking at what data your smart speaker is really collecting, its clear they have a lot of data about you and your habits. This data can be used to improve the performance of the device and to provide personalized services, but it also raises serious privacy concerns. It’s important to be aware of the data that smart speakers collect and to understand how it’s being used. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you may want to consider taking steps to protect your data, such as turning off the microphone when you’re not using the device or adjusting your privacy settings to limit the data that’s collected.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

Well obviously, you can not have any smart speakers in your life! However, you might want to find some sort of balance where you get the benefits, and minimise the data privacy risks.

There are several tips you can use to protect your privacy while still having the use and convenient of a smart speaker, such as:

  • Muting the microphone when not in use
  • Delete your local and cloud storage of past recordings
  • Train it to your voice. Most can recognize your unique voice like a fingerprint, which can lock any unwanted users from waking and using it.
  • Deactivate personalized features that pull sensitive info for your convenience.

 

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