privacy_westmountmag

The Hammer comes down:
The death of privacy

A scary New Year? Smart interactivity is probably here to stay but because of it your privacy is not

By Linda Hammerschmid

Do you notice that every new technological device guaranteed to lighten your load is also a means of surveillance against your right to privacy?

Syncing your mobile equipment to your home alarm system, GPSing your car to lower your insurance premiums, connecting to your Netflix/Crave entertainment packages – all these advances in society will allow us all to be ‘followed’ figuratively and literally by industry, government and who knows who else.

Some claim that your smart TVs track what you watch. Certainly we all have seen this phenomenon on our mobile tablets and social pages. Google some product and, later on, ads about that product mysteriously pop up on some other forum (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) at the bottom or side of your screens targeting your alleged interests.

… your TVs can do even more ‘spying’ on you, not only via built-in cameras, but by listening… to your private conversations.

Well, apparently, your TVs can do even more ‘spying’ on you, not only via built-in cameras, but by listening, yes, listening to your private conversations. It makes me happy that I am still watching TV from a unit I bought over 15 years ago and which I have not connected to the Internet. I do however have a newer model that, until I switched from Bell satellite to Fibe, for some reason, would show the number of the person calling my home phone number on the screen. The first time that happened I had no idea why my TV knew who was calling.

Many TV models now have default settings that, unless disabled, track what you are watching and share (really sell) that data to advertisers.

Smart TVs can also record the date, time and channel of programs you watch, and know whether you are watching live or recorded programs.

And those TV units can further capture voice commands (think of those ads you see where people tell their devices to add an item to the grocery list or order a prescription or remind you to do something in the future). Think 2015 Samsung TVs for example.

So if you intend to speak in front of your smart devices be careful what you utter as sensitive and personal information may also find its way into your device on its way to being data captured and sold. Or better yet, turn off the voice recognition features and save your privacy, or at least minimize the dissemination of it. Unfortunately, even doing so may not completely protect you.

‘Go through your TV’s list of commands and turn off anything that indicates it is listening or sending data, if you can.’

Your new smart TV may not even allow you to disconnect from your Wi-Fi network. But try and don’t give it your Wi-Fi password. Go through your TV’s list of commands and turn off anything that indicates it is listening or sending data, if you can.

Imagine how knowing your watching habits and your electrical use can indicate to the unscrupulous when you are not home, making it much easier to rob you!

Smart interactivity is probably here to stay but because of it your privacy is not.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.ca

Image: David Blackwell. via StockPholio.net

Read also: The Hammer comes down: It’s the Pits 2.0


linda hammerschmid

Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law.

You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show ‘Passion’ with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of Therapeutic Paws giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.


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  1. Brian Johnston

    Since telephone tapping requires warrants to bug our phones or plant micro transmitters, the manufacturers of these smart devices seem to be manufactured lacking adequate due diligence.

    All these devices whether cell phones, tablets, laptops smart televisions etc. must come with the default settings for listening or watching switches set to “off” and allow user the option to activate any of these features.

    On the other hand, when we download “free” apps for our cell phones or tablets we agree to mounds of legalese and most of us say yes, simply by pressing the check box or app will not download.

    Most importantly, not enough of end users pay attention to our routers, designed to disallow hackers from accessing closed ports on our smart devices, and install routers with the default username as “admin” and password as “password”, or entering weak passwords thereby negating the protection routers are designed to give us.

    A good deal of eavesdropping by our smart devices, that are accessed by our properly set routers can keep the windows closed on prying eyes.


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