30 May 2017

OK, This Was Creepy as F%$#

I was using Google Maps, specifically the navigation function today.

The radio was on, it was NPR, and I was talking back to the radio. (I have a problem, OK?)

The phone then said something like., "I don't understand your question.  Could you please repeat it?"  (Not an exact quote).

I had NOT turned on voice command on my phone, and all I can conclude is that my phone has been listening to and recording me, without my permission, at least when navigation is on.

I did a quick Google (Ironic, neh?) and discovered that Google Maps is tracking you, as well as listening to you. (See also here)

The problem is, I had already done all those things.

It turns out that "OK Google" has been installed in my phone on one of the myriad updates that have been pushed out on Google search.

You know Google Search, that bar across the top of the screen that the folks in Mountain View never let you remove.

Well, it turns out that there is a way to fix this: (Instructions are for Android Jelly Bean, specifically version 4.1.2, this may vary with version of OS and make and model of phone)
  1. Go to the app drawer, and open up Google Settings (NOT the same as the normal settings app) 
  2. Click on "Search."
  3. Scroll down until you see"Voice", and then click on that.
  4. Click on "OK Google Detection"
  5. Turn off "From the Google" which refers to search, and "While Driving", which refers to maps.  This turns off the phone's always listening snooping mode.
  6. Then, if you swear to your phone, go back up one level to voice, and turn "Block Offensive Words" off, so you can swear into speech to text.  (Optional for most, but essential for me, as I find the juxtaposition of profanity and technology to be invaluable.)
That should be it, at least until the Bond villains at Google come up with another way to put us into another panopticon.


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