only if phones can be like thinkpads which you can easily remove say the audio card from its motherboard.


Voice assistants are money losing products. If they can do something like processing the wakewords on the device before chosing to send to a server they will. These companies are far too stingy to continuously stream audio to their servers

linearchaos, avatar

Back in the day when everything had to be processed server-side sure.

Now we have purpose-built hardware helping work this shit out. The devices are basically capable of handling native language resolution locally. They’re no longer need to farm the data out. I still don’t think they’re doing this we would see it in the open source operating systems, but if they wanted to any late model cell phone would be absolutely fine parsing out your interests from your conversations. Hell, I’m sure the contents of this dictation I’m making now are being reduced and added to my social graph at Google.


If this is a normal Android app, the solution to this is simply to disable the Google app. pretty sure all the voice related shit and google lens and all that crap is tied to the Google app.

EmperorHenry, avatar

If Alexa, Cortana and Siri aren’t always listening, how can they pick their names out of conversations?


There are actually 2 processors in the devices. 1 that constantly listens for a keyword, Al la, Alexa, Hey Google. When it hears it it quickly spins up another “computer” that then sends your voice back and forth to the servers for processing and response. It’s part of the reason that the listen word isn’t easily customized.


It still stores the name triggers, even incorrect matches (last I checked, which was years back).
The recordings can be played back from account history.
The one time I looked at some random, it was mostly snippets of my conversations with friends.

EmperorHenry, avatar

the makers of these things always say that, but I guarantee that long winded explanation is bullshit. Maybe there’s even hardware in there that does those things, but even so, they’re always listening, recording and submitting everything you say to their maker. Primarily for targeted ads and targeted content of other sorts…but also to snitch on you if the cops accuse you of something.


On top of what the other person said, they are always listening. Amazon has provided audio from Alexa for the police

elscallr, avatar

Want an honest answer?

Onboard are >=2 bits of code. At least one of those is a specific system trained to recognize a “wake word”. This specific system (ostensibly) doesn’t send anything to an outside party. Its entire job is to recognize one wake phrase: Alexa, Ok Google, or Siri, and then if that wake phrase is used it responds and tells the second system to listen. As you can imagine, this is a pretty easy job to get right 80% of the time. So that can be put on a chip. So then it does its job, and it’s the second system that sends everything to an internet service for whatever reason.


I didn’t ask for honesty!

EmperorHenry, avatar

Nah, they’re always listening, what you described is just a placebo button.


why is this downvoted? you cant prove its not, if its proprietry. and since the companies listening just happen to profit off data collection (and break/bend the law often), its safe to assume they do this.


Sound’s like it’s just not sending the data back to Daddy Google. The OK Google/Alexa bit is done on a custom chip on the device. Clearly that bit isn’t being turned off, but anything after that isn’t being sent anywhere.

Probably just saves support calls this way from idiots who turn it off and forget.


For sure I’m an idiot as well

Zuberi, avatar

“Probably” is a great way to protect your privacy haha

Zuberi, avatar

The amount of amazon > google grift in the comments as if they’re not both spying on you is so cute :)


personally I think its better to be afraid of real things that are happening than things made up by Facebook boomers.

why this particular issue fools even the most technical of people I’ll never know.


But Facebook can’t spy on me, I repost the “I DO NOT GIVE FACEBOOK PERMISSION” spam every 3 months without fail!

Deceptichum, avatar

What made up by Facebook boomers, that devices can be used to listen and collect data on users?

funkless_eck, (edited )

obviously what you vaguely describe has been around since 1945.

That home assistant devices are constantly listening and feeding back marketing data on every conversation is patent and disproven nonsense.

they have done packet sniffing investigations, they have disassembled the devices, they have run meters on the electrical charges… everything in every way you can imagine.

But even if you just think about it for a second - processing a live audio feed at a rate of 1 second per second indefinitely and correlating that data via voice recognition to your Google profile all to… make your ad personalizations… worse? more inaccurate?

like what the hell is the perceived benefit? That my wife says, “oh my dad found my old barbie house!” while at my neighbors house and my neighbor gets served barbie ads? Why would Google want that?

Zuberi, avatar

LOL :)


Source: I work at Amazon, and have worked on Alexa

They don’t spy on you without your permission. Comments like these devalue actual instances where companies genuinely steal and manipulate data. Take the tin foil hat off…

Zuberi, avatar

Source: Trust me bro


If you had any remote idea about the tech industry, you’d know what kind of reputation Amazon has. If Amazon were stealing data, you can bet your ass that one of its employees (probably one of the ~6% that gets fired every year) would happily rat them out.

Comments like these amaze me. Even cesspools like Reddit and Twitter wouldn’t be so out of touch and stupid.

Zuberi, avatar

It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It


They’re not completely wrong, though. If the devices are phoning home when the mic is disabled, then someone would have discovered it by now. There are people who do that shit for fun, and Amazon is a big target.


As someone who has Google Home and used to have Alexa:

I have network tools tracking what these devices are doing just to see if they are constantly listening or doing anything weird.

In 4 years I’ve yet to see anything suspicious, which sucks, cuz it’d be worth so much fucking money to the media


Source: I work at Amazon, and have worked on Alexa

If you’re high enough level at Amazon to know for sure, you’re also high enough level at Amazon to almost definitely lie to people about it and other things as part of your job.

So no, we will not be taking your word for it.


That doesn’t make any sense. If I were “higher up”, do you think I would be actually doing any IC work? I’d be in management, and probably won’t even know where to look at any of the fucking source code.

Feel free not to take my word for it, but also feel free to ask anyone that has any experience with Alexa, or anyone that has monitored traffic leaving the device.

Is Lemmy just full of conspiracy nuts or something?


If I were “higher up”, do you think I would be actually doing any IC work

If you weren’t, why would you have access to enough data to know for sure whatv every part of it does and doesn’t do?

free to ask anyone that has any experience with Alexa, or anyone that has monitored traffic leaving the device.

So basically biased people and people who might lose their jobs if they say anything Amazon doesn’t want people to know? Sure, sounds credible!

There’s conspiracy theories and then there’s expecting that a company that has been proven to spy on people without their knowledge will spy on people without their knowledge.


That’s not how it works, at all, at ANY tech company. I know, because Amazon has a shared GitFarm, with detailed documentation on how things work, and most importantly the better part of a decade where no one inside or outside of the company has found the device “listening”.

I said it elsewhere, but will repeat since you clearly have no idea about the tech industry. Amazon treats it’s corp employees like shit. If ANYONE was going to leak shit about their employer doing something shitty, it would be an Amazon employee, especially since their URA process is so widely known.

IF Amazon get caught spying, they get everything that they deserve. I’ve never worked in the Ring org, so whatever they do is on them, and if they get caught being shitty with customer data they should be punished severely. What I can say, which (again) is backed by a decade of people not calling out the really-fucking-easily-verified fact that Alexa isn’t phoning home outside of the utterances you say to it. Wakewords don’t leave the device, they’re an offline trigger to get the “actual” content.

I’ll repeat it again, this is an insane take that I haven’t experienced after a decade of posting on Reddit and Twitter. Why is the fediverse full of conspiracy theorists that don’t do basic research before making statements?

Zuberi, avatar

Your general demeanor is atrocious.


If you think they’re not spying then you’re just still way too low on the totem pole.

You “work at Amazon” so I imagine you’re either deluded or intentionally misleading on purpose.

It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It

Viking_Hippie, (edited )


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  • EatYouWell,

    You might want to take your own advice, buddy.


    lol they are such stereotypical conspiracy theorists too, “of course you’d say it’s not true, that’s exactly what someone who was hiding the truth would say!”


    They’d also be violating their NDA.


    Consent could be argued that it was given upon purchase of the Alexa unit…


    These threads are always full of fucking bootlickers and paid shills.

    Stumblinbear, avatar

    And also full of people unironically using the term bootlickers

    Zuberi, avatar

    Plenty of unironic bootlickers out there, no?


    It wasn’t meant to be ironic.


    This is why we don’t have such devices


    You don´t have a phone?


    When I turn my phone’s microphone off and say “hey Google” my phone doesn’t respond in the slightest. Much more comforting.


    If you really think your phone not responding means your phone is not listening …

    DeepGradientAscent, avatar

    If you’re tech-savvy, or are friends with someone who is, Run an open-sourced custom ROM on your smartphone. Problem solved.


    Interesting, thank you!


    I didn’t say that, I said it’s more comforting. Unfortunately I need my phone for work so I can’t run a de-googled rom so it’s good enough for me. And I never see ads referencing things I talk about.


    I see! Whatever works for you :)


    I don’t understand, how does running a degoogled rom stop you from using the phone for work?

    I also use my phone for work (company profile, apps, 2fa etc) and it works fine on GrapheneOS.


    It doesn’t run anything from google. I run lineage os.

    You could make the point that the service companies know where you ate all the time but that doesn’t have anything to do with audio that I know of.


    I run lineage os

    Good for you, never mind then. However, most people run preinstalled OS, so I just assumed you also would.


    Honestly if you are thinking about your phone listening to you then you probably should look into running something other than stock. (You are not most people)


    Good point. How complicated is it to install lineage OS on a Fairphone while also keeping/transferring my contacts?


    It depends. What I would do if you are interested is buy a cheap damaged phone that is still usable and then flash it with Lineage. From there you can break things without causing issues on your main device.


    Interesting, thank you!


    I thought lineage os still uses google for stuff like push notifications? It just doesn’t use the “Google apps” by default


    You can choose to install gapps or not.


    It does not. It is fairly close to AOSP with a few improvements to the stock system.


    Are you actually surprised you can’t unplug a microphone from the settings menu?


    How dense are you, on a scale from lead to osmium?


    You’re the one that thinks an integrated microphone would just ‘turn off’ because you tapped on a touchscreen so maybe cool it with the schoolyard insults you tossed some elemental chemistry into to make yourself sound smarter.


    What sorcery is this‽


    Showing me a picture of a hardware switch when my point was about software settings is pointless.


    Yes, but you are the one who started to talk about a software switch. So obviously you were not aware of the fact that there are hardware switches. Or you just wanted to troll.


    Pretty sure I was talking about the subject of the post and not, as many have pointed out, all the ways you could possibly wire up a fucking microphone.


    Lol. That was great


    Do some reading, it’ll do you some good.


    You certainly could wire that up and I was aware of that when I made my comment but if you think any of your electronics, especially the big corp home devices like the Google home or Amazon Alexa, are wired like that then you’re out of your mind.


    Also, why isn’t there a slide cover to physically cover the camera, and why can’t I turn off the mic and camera separately? So I just use one of those black foam stickers to cover the camera.


    One Plus 7 Pro had a camera that would physically dissappear when not in use.

    Was my favorite phone for a while


    Still my phone and still my favourite.


    My Lenovo smart display has one and I have never opened it because I don’t need to make video calls with a smart display


    So, I don’t trust them to have actually done what I’m going to describe, (and honestly I’ve just accepted that even with everything off, they’re still giving me ads based on stuff I’ve only talked about and never clicked or written anything), but:

    The programs that recognize specific phrases(Ok Google), are always separate from normal voice recognition (and much much lighter in terms of processing). So, if they weren’t Google, they might have left the “Ok Google” recognition on, but not process anything else that the mic receives.

    They’re probably still listening in though.


    I will say that that’s exactly how the google voice api works. Of course it’s all in a black box, but that’s how the documentation describes it and how it functions when making a voice app


    Didn’t they just pass a law to make all that illegal spying legal, like that changes anything? Seems obvious if your phone is listening in a device like this will be used no matter what setting you use. I remember Amazon being caught leaving their mics on and also Facebook sending conversations to 3rd parties for transcribing. And this is just a small fraction of the shit we know about.


    That was for government spying, not private.


    I thought private spied for government? Or government did it anyway


    That’s the gist of how it likely works; the wake word is detected by an “always on” audio DSP, but a software mode prevents the passing of microphone data back up to the SoC. I’m actually quite familiar with Amazon Echo engineering design, and they implement the “mute” feature in a manner that takes privacy seriously: the LED indicator on that button is hardwired to only turn on when the microphone is literally powered off. Thus, an Echo device can’t even manage such a cheeky response, nor can a software bug or hack enable listening while the mute button is lit.


    Not necessarily you or your case, but I’m still convinced that a lot of people just have confirmation bias (only noticing it when it happens and discounting the thousands of otherwise innocent ads). There’s also subconscious ad effects, like you were only talking about it to begin with because your saw it somewhere because it’s been spreading by weird of mouth from people who initially saw an ad


    Most of it is people on the same network as you searching for a thing.


    Doesn’t really explain why I was receiving cat litter ads after only speaking with my husband offhand about maybe getting a cat. We didn’t already have a cat, so hadn’t had any reason to look up any cat care goods ever, and I had never searched for anything even remotely cat-related up to that point. But wouldn’t you know it, about 45 minutes later, I was getting kitty litter ads. Very spooky.


    Sorry but I want the true story to be that your husband immediately went off and started googling to find a cat to surprise you for Christmas thus you got cat ads (same network like someone else said).


    What you describe is actually how it works. If they actually sent all you say to their servers, it would be trivial to detect with a network analyser.


    And if they were found to be sending it all the time, holy fuck the fines would end the company.


    Lol, what are you talking about? When was the last time the FTC ended a company over shady privacy practices?

    Amazon would get a fine that would amount to like 0.001% of one day’s profits.


    Why listen and risk even a slap on the wrist?

    Recall Target:

    As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.

    One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August.

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