Years ago, we searched the web, bought new gadgets, and typed in our email addresses without much thought. As far as accounts went, “Hey if it’s free, sign me up,” we thought.
Fast forward to now, and you can’t go online or turn on the news without hearing about the control Big Tech has on our lives — and the growing resentment around it.
We’re not the only ones noticing. Probably due to government initiatives, tech companies are making changes to address these concerns. You can now password protect the page that reveals all your Google searches and other activity.
If you own an iPhone, it’s easier than ever to see what info the apps you use are collecting and block that data from being shared. Tap or click for five iPhone security settings everyone should know about.
Americans may be finally waking up to the fact that when a product is free, they are in fact, the product.
Big Tech: Do you trust it?
I hear from callers to my national radio show and readers from my website and newsletters all the time who say they’re tired of Big Tech companies, their power, and their control. It got me wondering, how widespread is this feeling? I put together a poll and sent it out to subscribers of my free newsletters, and 6,351 people responded.
Here’s a telling stat for you: 86% say they no longer trust Big Tech companies. As a country, we realize how much power and influence they have on our everyday lives.
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When’s the last time you got through a day without picking up your iPhone or Android smartphone? What about your Apple or Microsoft computer? Shopping on Amazon or scrolling through posts on Facebook?
The survey found that 76% of those who responded use Google daily, followed by Microsoft (60%), Apple (49%), and Facebook (45%). Over 40% shop on Amazon or use Amazon owned-products like the Echo daily; 89% are active shoppers on Amazon.com.
Only a mere 1.34%, or 85 people, of those polled say they don’t interact with at least one of those companies every day.
Who is watching and listening?
If you have a smart speaker at home, I bet you have wondered, “Is it listening to me all the time?” It’s one of the reasons I unplugged my Amazon Echo and stuck it in the garage.
I asked those polled if they think smart speakers listen to what you say all of the time instead of only when you use the “wake” words. A whopping 82.73% said “all the time.”
Amazon, Apple and Google will tell you their AI assistants only listen for the wake words, like “Alexa,” “Siri” and “Hey, Google.” One issue, though, is how often smart speakers are accidentally triggered.
A 2020 study from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany showed a combined 1,000 phrases could trigger Alexa (“election,” “a letter”), Google Home (“OK, cool,” “Ok, you know”), Siri (“hey Jerry,” “hey, seriously”) and Microsoft’s Cortana (“Montana,” “frittata”).
Worried your smart assistant hears too much? Tap or click to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say. A good rule of thumb is to keep smart speakers out of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Nearly 60% of poll respondents fear their smartphones are spying on them and say they’ve experienced the phenomenon when they’re having a conversation about something and then saw an ad online for that exact product.
Before you jump to thinking your phone’s microphone is recording what you say, there could be other reasons for the coincidence. Maybe you searched for something similar before, or someone in your house did. Your home’s IP address is used to target you with ads, after all.
What about Google alternatives?
Here’s one of the most conclusive answers from my survey: 92% of respondents think Google knows too much information about their personal lives.
Think about it. Many of us use Google for our email, video meetings, document storage, web browser and much more. Tap or click here to see everything Google knows about you with one quick search.
You have great alternatives you want to step outside the Google-sphere. I have all your non-Google options listed here on my site from search sites that don’t track, mail, browsers, maps, and video sites.
To see the rest of the survey’s findings, check out the full results on my website.
NEED A HAND WITH A PESKY PRINTER, SLOW INTERNET OR ONLINE BUSINESS? Post your tech questions for concrete answers you can trust from me and other tech pros. Visit my Q&A Forum and get tech help now.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.