Guest post by lucid-n0nsense
Google, Facebook and Amazon have denied using data coming from private conversations, but pay attention to their exact words. They always says they do not use “recordings” (which does not include real-time keyword recognition) or they specify that “we” do not use voice data (which does not mean that the third parties who contribute to their apps do not use voice data).
I believe they (and probably others) ask third parties to write part of their apps with a wink and a nod, then very intently look the other way, allowing them to say with a straight face that “we” do not use the microphone for targeted advertisements.
Have you ever looked at the third party licensing notices in some of your apps? For example, in the Amazon Shopping app, some third party code is licensed under the MIT license. Here it is in its entirety:
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
I’ve been trying to get Facebook, Google and Amazon to deny that their apps use keyword recognition on private conversations, regardless of who wrote the code, but they are refusing to answer.
Please find attached a file documenting how I came to that conclusion.