Smart speakers with their voice assistants are hugely popular, but they also gather vast information about you for corporate and other interests (Shannon Stapleton-Reuters)

Smart speakers and privacy: helpful, but gathering data on you as well

Smart speakers with their voice assistants are becoming more and more common, and many might find their way under a Christmas tree this year. But for all the assistance and helpful information they may provide, they could also be gathering lots of private and personal information and data about you, your family, and even guests. Where that personal information ends up and what it might be used for is also a big concern.

I spoke with Jordan Pearson in Toronto. He is a Senior Editor at Motherboard, a tech news site from VICE Media.


The smart speakers are also microphones that pick up your conversations. They’re supposed to be activated only by “wake” words, but as Pearson notes , they’re not perfect and can be recording things you may not want them to. He says people haveto realise they are always ”on”.

Jordan Pearson, tech expert for Vice Media (Vice)

Of course even when operating as desired they’re still collecting data on your habits,  and all kinds of other data. Where that information ends up is also a concern. He notes that police have requested smart phone conversations.

Also, these are American companies which is also a concern because while they operate in our country they may not be subject to the same degree of scrutiny.

There is now a wide variety of smart speakers on the market along with several voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and so on. (Reuters Peter Hobson, Beck Diefenbach,Stephen Lam, Harman Kardon)

He points out these devices are designed to collect as much information as possible as the default setting and there is always the question of trust in these companies. He noted that the case in Europe- where someone requested to see the data a company had gathered on them….and they were sent someone else’s file.

Christmas, a time for parties, and guests. The head of Google says when inviting people to your home you should advise them that you have the device which some would classify as “surveillance” (via CBC)

Pearson says people should try to read the terms of use agreement when buying these devices, or any similar internet connected electronic data gathering device, although he notes these “contracts” seem deliberately long and confusing. One thing to do is to become familiar with the privacy settings on the device and set them to your level of comfort with data gathering.

Of course, because they’re not perfect, unless you physically turn them off, they’re always “on” and listening.

additional information

Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Economy, International, Internet, Science and Technology, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


One comment on “Smart speakers and privacy: helpful, but gathering data on you as well
  1. Avatar ursula wagner says:

    What an ill society we became?
    Who can be so stupid and have that in her/his house or flat?