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

You’re going to love Creamy Dill Chicken

Try out a recipe for lilac infused oil

Prime minister wastes tax money on trips

Someone is going to have a big job cleaning up this mess: writer

County of Wetaskiwin will re-examine Winfield security

Winfield facility security a matter of debate Apr. 9

County council agrees area structure plans necessary

Alder Flats resident requests waiver of area structure plan

Lakedell 4-H Beef Club report for May

Our club year has wrapped up with an amazing bang. We could… Continue reading

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Alberta Mountie found not guilty of dangerous driving causing pedestrian’s death

RCMP Const. Michelle Phillips also found not guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

Three Albertans land ‘monster’ sturgeon in B.C.’s Fraser River

For angler who landed the exceptionally large sturgeon it was an ‘incredible dream come true’

Toronto Raptors and their diverse team celebrated worldwide

Team is made up of players from the U.S., Canada, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Spain

Further murder charge laid after alleged targeted hits in two Alberta cities

Jimmy Truong, who is 27, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Louie Angelo Mojica

Pot edibles, topicals and extracts to hit shelves no earlier than mid-December: Ottawa

Health Canada wrapped its public consultation on the draft rules for cannabis products in February

We the North: Delirious fans celebrate as Raptors win NBA title

Supporters from all over Canada cheer Toronto’s triumph

Excited, anxious fans prepare for Raptors to play in Game 6 of the NBA Finals

The Raptors currently lead the Warriors 3-2 in the best-of-seven series

Most Read