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We need restrictions on government surveillance, not limits on Google Assistant or Alexa

Google Home range
Google Home range (Image credit: Phil Nickinson / Android Central)

Last week, Ava Kofman wrote an interesting yet terrifying piece in The Intercept about Voice RT. You've probably never heard of Voice RT before because it's been one of those things the U.S. Government does in secret; in this case, it was developing technology that can positively identify someone by the sound of their voice. Be sure to read it. It's important information everyone needs to know.

Our voice is the perfect biometric identifier; it's stable and unique.

Now the idea of recognizing someone by their voice is easy to grasp. We do it every day when we talk to the people close to us. A person's voice is pretty unique and it doesn't take a lot of processing power — either the organic kind in our heads or the silicon kind in our gadgets — to know who you're talking to just from hearing them speak. But the NSA was able to take things to the extreme. They have the ability to listen to everything, everywhere. If you're using a pay phone in the middle of nowhere they can listen. They might even have the authority to do it, and that means we might have a big problem sitting on our nightstands or coffee tables called Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Speaking with The Verge, Albert Gidari, director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said these products "are vulnerable to government demands for access and disclosure; I think the government could obtain a technical assistance order to facilitate the scan, and under FISA, perhaps to build the tool, too." I'm sure Gidari is right because the government can already subpoena our phones, our computers, and even our televisions to facilitate an investigation. Senators Wyden (D., Oregon) and Paul (R., Kentucky) think that FISA might be abused in this way, too.

And it's not an issue of a government agency spying on what we are saying or doing when we talk to Alexa or Google Home. They don't need that information; all they want is a recording of our voices.

Both the Echo and Google Home store recordings of the things we say when talking to them. Both also transmit voice data to a cloud server for processing, too. Thankfully, each only records after the hot word is detected and any data that leaves your device is encrypted and anonymized. Whether they could intercept and decrypt the data, demand it through the courts, or pull it right from the device all they'll hear is people like you and me telling Assistant or Alexa to change the channel or give a weather forecast — mundane information that you aren't trying to keep secret. Police in Bentonville Arkansas found just that when an Amazon Echo was subpoenaed in a 2016 murder case (opens in new tab). But again, that's not what the NSA was collecting with Voice RT; they just wanted some sample data of a voice so they could match it while doing the spying thing in real time.

It's not what you say. It's the fact that it is you saying it that makes it interesting to the NSA.

Digging through the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Kofman found that the NSA has been collecting voice recognition data for years. This technology was used to identify Saddam Hussein and match some past recordings that were captured. Voiceprints for Osama Bin Laden and other high-ranking Al Qaeda members were created, and one memo tells how Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was found to be the speaker in online audio files that the CIA was very interested in. These classified documents show that between 2004 and 2012 the NSA refined and used their speaker recognition technology in counterterrorism ops and international drug arrests.

If you think the country's top spy agency collecting random recordings of what people say to assist when fighting terrorism or drug trafficking is OK, not many people would argue with you. Google and Facebook (and probably every other internet company) scan collected data for things like child pornography or abuse, copyright infringement, and terroristic activity because someone feels it's for the greater good. I won't argue. But Snowden also revealed that the NSA plans to deploy the same tech to prevent whistleblowers like him from exposing their misdeeds years before Executive Order 13587 was signed.

The NSA has plans to use the tactics that help catch Bin Laden to surveil Americans.

That's going too far, and it has people like former White House adviser to the Director of National Intelligence Timothy Edgar worried about our privacy and the repercussions from an overbearing government agency if they think we have said or done something they don't like. We've all heard cases where a very thin line was walked and crossed and everything wasn't quite legal according to the spirit of the Constitution. When it comes to our voices, civil liberty experts think Google and Amazon need to change how Home and the Echo work so that no voice data is retained.

Our voices are stable; something I said 10 years ago can be positively identified through a voiceprint as coming from me today. With voice recordings at hand, even though they are files saying something like "OK Google, dim the living room lights to 50%" it's easy to use them against us for any investigation or operation. I imagine the NSA has plenty of voice data that can identify a person who served drinks to a wanted terrorist at a hotel, or the agent at the ticket counter in an airport. I also imagine these innocents were questioned and then served with a gag order, even though they were innocent of any crimes and the NSA and CIA and FBI knew they were innocent.

Don't believe the talk that programs like FISA are designed and used solely to protect us. We have plenty of evidence to the contrary.

This needs to be unmasked and debated in public. Technology that can be used to track journalists or expose their sources is dangerous when not used correctly and shouldn't be hidden behind a wall of government classification. While groups like the EFF and Freedom of the Press Foundation try to make that happen, there is pressure on Google and Amazon to stop saving and analyzing voice data the way they do now. That puts quite the damper on a system designed to analyze everything and get smarter. Machine learning needs copious amounts of data to analyze over and over to "learn." Google and Amazon need to worry about collecting and storing it all in a way that keeps it anonymous instead of worrying about how their learning machines can learn without the data they need.

A machine needs data to learn. A lot of data repeated over and over and over again.

Pointing the finger at Alexa and Assistant as the root of the problem isn't good for anyone who finds them useful. We need to focus on roping in our government and putting a stop to unwarranted surveillance of Americans. And this isn't just a U.S.A. thing; Interpol and Britain's GCHQ have "worked closely" with the NSA and credit programs like Voice RT as "playing an important part in our relationship with NSA." China has been said to have the same type of program and is now able to positively identify tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens by the sound of their voice automatically.

I don't trust the NSA to have secret technology that can identify any of us at any time and not use it inappropriately. I agree with civil liberty experts that this is a dangerous path and should be made public. I don't agree with pressuring Google and Amazon to stop innovating while we wait. We're seeing the future unfold before our eyes and until the "smart" machines Google and Amazon are using to bring it to us show that they need reigning in, let's not hold the future back.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

81 Comments
  • You might be on to something. The other day, three men in black suits burst through my door, turned all my lights down and the volume on the all the TVs up, and left.
  • Same happened to me, and 18 minutes of commands were missing. Where's Alex Jones when you need him? /s
  • Wow, a Nixon joke. Nice!
  • Really? Where are these guys when I need them? Just today, I wanted to change the volume, but my remote control was on the other side of the room. Really could've used that kind of service.
  • I think you are mistaken if you think Google and Amazon aren't part of the problem. Why is it our most mundane data must head to the cloud in the first place? My Windows CE phone from 10 years ago had the processing power to do a decent job at voice recognition, and yet today, all these devices send our voices to the cloud in order to process the request. Really? Same thing goes for these hub systems like SmartThings. Though I use these systems for my vacation home and rentals, I'm not interested in my comings and goings being relayed to the cloud, which again, isn't at all necessary in this day and age. My point is, I'm very suspicious every time a company says that it is necessary for the functionality of a product to send it's data to the cloud and every company is doing it when I don't think it is necessary at all.
  • Exactly.
    Jerry, Google for a long time has a role in this and relationship with State Department.
    Amazon is not any different.
  • I agree 100%. Google and Amazon have made a fortune going along aiding and abetting the government by convincing them it's in the best interests of society that this data should be COLLECTED and STORED int he first place. One of the keys to their approach was telling them (wink, wink) that when push comes to shove these corporations will roll over and provide this data to the government versus taking it to the mat and fighting it in court which would have led to the break up of these companies. They learned their lesson from the AT&T and Microsoft anti trust cases -- better to quietly cooperate and better yet figure out how to get government on their side. I should have the option to use my voice assistant on my phone LOCALLY. That is NO DATA sent to the cloud. Give me an option to send data to the cloud, I'm OK with that. The only thing I want my voice assistant to do are things like "Call my Mom" and I see no reason why I should have to roll over to Big Data and have my phone potentially record every sound I make in the THE CLOUD just so I can get my Snapdragon 835 powered device to open up my contacts and dial a friend or family. Or transcribe a voice to an SMS message. Google and Amazon are the smart ones. They have figured out how to get fabulously wealthy convincing the government that it is OK to collect and store this data in the first place! I think it's HORRIBLE that one can't use a voice assistant LOCALLY!
  • Right? Look at all the power of latest processors combined with AI - why can't we have basic operations done on device itself ? Because it ain't profitable.
  • Agree 100% Jerry. Google and the other companies need to stop storing these files. Because all the government has to do to obtain them (lawfully or not) is utter two words to any judge: National Security
    Right or wrong, almost no judge will go against that argument. If the files are anonimized, or better yet, not stored in the first place, there's nothing to turn over.
  • The government didn't need this tech to nab Nixon, but I gotta say, you look fetching in the tin foil fedora.
  • Nah, he recorded everything. He caught himself.
  • What's odd is that many who want restrictions on government also want "Net Neutrality" which IS government control over the internet.
  • The common denominator is that they want people to be treated fairly, whether it's by corporations or the government.
  • Common denominator is that there are people who want to decide what "fair" is and it frequently translates into "whatever gives me the most publicity today". Whether it is government pushing around corporations or corporations refusing to be pushed around by government is quite incidental at this point... As far as this article goes -- corporations and governments will be collecting data on citizenry and this data will make it into all kinds of wrong hands (legitimately or not) and see all kinds of abuse by all kinds of players. It is up to individual to decide where he draws the line in every case. Those who hope for mass solutions, whether technological or legal are naive.
  • Exactly.
  • Not wanting big corporations to screw you and not wanting the government to screw you are not mutually exclusive. The fact you even bring net neutrality up here suggests that you probably don't understand what it's about.
  • This! So tired of people either conflating those two or making that leap that we shouldn't have both.
  • "Not wanting big corporations to screw you and not wanting the government to screw you are not mutually exclusive." You are absolutely right... but wanting government to protect you from corporations (big and small) and wanting corporations to protect you from government does seem to pose a little challenge.
  • I don't want corporations to protect me from the government, and I never claimed I did. I want corporations to have literally no power over the government whatsoever. They can not be trusted to act in the public interest, they exist solely to make money.
  • As do governments. There isn't a single politician I trust. Dumbocrat or retardican. Just as there is no corporation I trust. Governments are made up of politicians that are only out to make money. Corporations are made up of executives that are only out to make money. All of which are not trustworthy.
  • Well said Fuzzy
  • Well said.
  • We need restrictions on both. You need to be more logical. How can it be more ok to be spied on by private companies abd not by the government ?! And it gives the government a way ro get indirectly more data on us through those companies...
  • You understand that you give permission to those companies and devices to use your voice data for things before you can actually use them right?
  • Yes and that gives them some responsibility. Anyway i don’t own any smart speaker and icam not interested in one...
  • The government has the power to take away your freedom. A private company does not. And private companies are not spying on you if you're voluntarily giving them information.
  • "Don't believe the talk that programs like FISA are designed and used solely to protect us. We have plenty of evidence to the contrary." We already know that an outgoing President (Obama) abused the FISA courts solely to undermine politically his successor, just because he didn't like him. And the cronies in the FBI and DOJ do everything possible to avoid oversight by the people who are elected to oversee them (Congress). I trust Putin and a host of other foreign entities more than I do our own government.
  • "I trust Putin and a host of other foreign entities more than I do our own government." You should trust any government to do what they can to stay in power, everything else is naive. So what you are saying translates to "I like methods, employed by Putin and a host of other foreign entities...". Not that I am judging, mind you.
  • I trust other countries with my data more than this country because other countries can't incarerate me when I disagree with them.
  • Hmm really? So the US throws you in jail when you disagree, but no other countries do? Yeah...
  • What I mean is if my data is stored on a server in another country (as long as it doesn't cooperate with the US), that other country isn't going to have any legal or physical way of holding it against me (like our US Gov't likes to do).
  • We already know that an outgoing President (Obama) abused the FISA courts solely to undermine politically his successor, just because he didn't like him. ^^ "We" don't know this. People that only get their news from particular sources "know" this. This is not backed up by evidence at all, and is actually refuted by the CURRENT people in charge of the very agencies accused of doing it (who were appointed by the CURRENT POTUS). That being said, FISA and similar programs/operations are RIPE for abuse. I don't trust the government to keep their hands out of the cookie jar. We're already seeing programs designed for one purpose getting repurposed for other agencies (license plate tracking and databases getting opened up for ICE).
  • Now you're naïve if you don't think ICE already had access to this.
  • "We already know that an outgoing President (Obama) abused the FISA courts solely to undermine politically his successor, just because he didn't like him. And the cronies in the FBI and DOJ do everything possible to avoid oversight by the people who are elected to oversee them (Congress)." Oh really? Now this is a perfect example of "fake news"...
  • This time next week, after Congress releases the memo that the FBI and DOJ are complaining about, come talk to me. Until then, I'll basically chalk up what you are saying as the old the Democrat person I voted for did it, so it's OK, because you know, Trump and all, and the ends justify the means, until they don't. I would expect nothing less. This is a tech blog. It's 90% Democrat/Regressive. It's part of living life surrounded by delusional people.
  • The memo is nothing. You need to quit listening to Alex Jones and Sean Hannity.
  • Actually it's "Fox News", but Fox and Fake are pretty much the same.
  • At least Obama wasn't under investigation by a special prosecutor for undermining our democracy by colluding with a foreign entity.
  • Duh! This "investigation" has proven zilch in over a year, and was started because of a FISA warrant issued in response to a Clinton funded dossier that has never been substantiated, even after trying to for over a year. There's your collusion right there, committed by our own government that just couldn't stand the fact that Trump was elected. Well, he's the President, thank God, and nothing is going to change that. But that drip, drip, drip I'm hearing is the faucet about to burst on the deep state and Democrats including that godawful hag Hillary. I'm gonna enjoy watching all you regressives crap yourselves again when it happens.
  • That's not how the investigation started at all.... .... Which proves that you don't get your news from anything close to a reputable source.
  • Ah so you mean he gets his news from CNN? Doh, what a fool...
  • How is colluding with foreign governments any different than colluding with our corporations in the interest of profit over the good of the public (like its always been ie. Lobbyists). Btw, I'm not a supporter of either the Dems or Reps.
  • Show me proof of this in a set of reputable media outlets that are not biased towards the president or the GOP please. Sincerely, if this happened, I wouldn't actually blame him because he knew at that time that Trump was possibly colluding with Putin, but I wouldn't be happy about it either. There is zero proof if this. In fact, the proof that does exist is that others who have since been found indicted (Manafort, Flynn) were being legally spied on, which isn't abuse, and that Trump was overheard in conversations with them. But if you have legitimate proof otherwise from reliable neutral sources, I'm all eyes.
  • Millennial Logic...
    Net Neutrality; The Internet will die if government doesn't regulate it.
    Government Spying; What are you, Alex Jones retarded kid brother? Good analysis, Jerry, don't be afraid to speak the truth.
  • There's also idiot logic... 1. Find a group you dislike for no actual reason. 2. Put words in their mouths to create a narrative which disagrees with you to justify that dislike.
  • Good article, Jerry . Well put. Big Brother and the Holding Company have used 9/11 as a justification to supplant the rule of law with, "Hey, trust us - we're the good guys!", but they're not.
  • And is for this reason, I won't be getting a Home or Alexa any time soon. The phone will do for now thanks.
  • If you use Ok Google, they're able to hear that too FWIW.
  • My phone gives them much more information about me than my Echo Dot does.
  • I don't think you have to spring for an Alexa or a Google home to get the benefits of government spying....pretty sure they could get all that plus your locations from just your phone, pesky laws and all aside..
  • Right, exactly, Ok Google gives the same service.
  • Good read. ... For more from Tim Edgar, I highly recommend reading his book Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform the NSA. ... tl;dr — this stuff actually is pretty complicated.
  • I can care less. I have nothing to hide. Everyone acts like they are secret agents or something. What are you afraid of? No one cares about your boring lives.. Only criminals and terrorist need to worry about "spying"
  • This is why you shouldn't deserve to have Constitutional rights.
  • So basically you're absolutely fine with being filmed taking a shít just in case the reason you're going to the toilet is to do cocaine? You're fine with being watched when you jerk off, because you could just as easily be working on improvised explosives? The point is exactly that we have nothing to hide. If we're not doing anything criminal, we shouldn't be treated like criminals. And it's can't or couldn't care less. If you can care less, that means you do care, at least a little.
  • Yes they can watch me take a dump or jerk off. I'm retired military and know eyes in the sky and spying works to get the bad guys. Pencil pushers and keyboard warriors will never understand. So how else are they supposed to find terrorist or criminals. If the tools are there then use them.
  • And you're also fine with them watching your wife do those things? And your children? If you're treating the people that trusted you with that power so poorly, you are the bad guys. You've already lost the battle. Who needs innocent until proven guilty anyway? You're talking about fascism...I for one do not want to live in a police state, even if you do.
  • Yep.
    When you treat everyone as a suspect, you lost.
    And speaking of military and it's "democracy spreading around the globe" - you should have learned by now what it takes to take down brutal autocratic regime and what tools they are glad to use to crush the opposition. These tools are basically making any dissent impossible.
    This is not Jesus sitting behind the desk looking over our "wrongdoings", but just like any flawed, power hungry human being, seeking to protect it's authority over the others. And no , there is 0 evidence that indiscriminate spying over Citizens prevented any terrorist attack on US and EU soil. There are other ways to track the terrorist activities - following pattern , not individuals with IDs attached. We had that tech , before NSA decided to take all power.
    We can't trust anyone to have that kind of power - absolute power what it seems like. In some states, protests are already deemed illegal, because "dangerous" behavior of some "looters and thugs", so what's next? Hunt down anyone willing to demand change and expose the crimes of those in power (journos, whistleblowers). Also, what we have evidence for is that we don't live in Democracy- It's Oligarchy. Over 90% of Govt policies reflect the needs of Corporations and Big Business. So , it's US Inc. We have legalized bribery and corruption - "campaign donations", "Lobbying" , etc. Lastly, terrorism we face around the globe today is a symptom of a larger problem - oppression, poverty, income inequality, etc. World economy is failing and we are in diseased state. Of course , denial is the worst enemy - after Pride - Righteousness.
  • Udazavlanje - well said, I totally agree
  • Everyone is a suspect. Let's be honest, every single one of us, EVERY SINGLE ONE, breaks the law everyday. Could be something as small as speeding, rolling through a stop, etc, but everyone does it. And if you can say you don't, you are lying to yourself. But 99% of us aren't doing anything the gov't has time to deal with. Until we get to Minority Report level, or for those old enough, Demolition Man, your illegal acts with be ignored to an effort to deal with the higher level illegal acts. Also, @fuzzylumpkin, innocent until proven guilty is a myth, and tagline created by Fox. The majority of people will see someone being arrested or walking in handcuffs and assume they are guilty. People seeing this don't ask, "Oh, I wonder what they are accused of doing," they ask themselves, "Oh, I wonder what they did." Subtle but big difference.
  • True, we all fail to obey all the laws on daily basis - we are only human. The problem with "All are Suspects" I look at the deeper philosophical and practical level. Once you take that approach, from that point on (just like in the household or community) most of your time and resources are dedicated to "prove" your suspicion. It's extremely inefficient, highly expensive and it creates hostile environment for those around you. People gradually start feeling more oppressed. Maybe they are still dependants (in your household) but resentment and anger accumulate. And given enough time and opportunity, it will blow up this way or another. They will either leave you or violently fight you.
    All the countries of the Soviet Bloc functioned exactly in this manner. Every single citizen was a potential threat, Agent - suspected of "collaborating with Western Bloc". Many ended up in Compulsory Labor Camps - Gulags, forcefully moved to different regions, fired from jobs or simply killed.
    Same level of oppression was done in the second half of 19th century in Tsarist Russia , which finally escalated in bloody Red Revolution.
    It is extremely unsustainable model, but powers to be, in the end won't act rationally in order to Maintain it's possition. That's why we saw many of those Rulers and Empires fail or break violently into pieces.
    Maybe these days, they got smarter, looking for these tools to prevent and stop the challenge of their authority. That is what should scare us the most. We need Tech to help us in all essential tasks and security is one of them. But it should be done with a heavy oversight - from the original design to the actual execution and use. We can ask and have security without sacrificing privacy. For that we need to establish functional representative democracy.
  • I used to say exactly the same. But then I learned that many staffers in the NSA were abusing this stuff to spy on wives, exes, etc. Don't think that human beings at any agency are incapable of abusing this.
  • I'm getting really tired of hearing ignorant people saying "I have nothing to hide..." Ur the kind of person that's screwing the rest of us over by just handing over our rights. Smfh
  • Most people complaining about rights have no clue that they have it so good here. Probably never even left there own town there whole life. We are the most free country in the world. The government can care less about regular law abiding citizens. If they look at you and see nothing they move on. Why waste time on us nobody's..
  • This is concerning, especially since the highest levels of our government are being manipulated/blackmailed by Uncle Vlad over in Russia.
  • Say no to drugs, kids.
  • Well said, and we appreciate your giving the message since it's always better coming from someone with the extensive drug use experience you have if after the last year you're still a Trump Supporter. Again, thanks for your selfless help.
  • Obamacare is on its way out. Tax cuts are on the way in. EPA is being appropriately gutted. Economy is booming. ISIS is getting it's butt kicked. Millions of people got bonuses and raises. Net Neutrality got whacked, and delusional liberal whackadoodles are still ******* their pants because they lost an election. Yeah, I'd say I'm feeling pretty good. Make sure you send back that tax cut your getting. You know, because Trump is the devil and all.
  • Yeah, you're right, Obamacare is on the way out because of Trump. Even with it's shortcomings, it saved hundreds of thousands of lives. As a former patient of a terminal disease (diagnosed at 31) who is only alive thanks to a very risky bone marrow transplant, I see the results of that daily with literally 100s of people I interact with in FB support groups both for the disease I had, and for transplant patients suffering from severe rejection issues. Trump has enabled insurance companies to deny them life savings medications. Many of them are now literally at risk if dying because of this, or in some cases actually dying and suffering unimaginably. Trump is single handedly killing people I know. The only reason I'm not impacted by this is that I had my transplant at the NIH, which is federally funded. I'm not dependent on insurance companies. So much winning for those folks. But hey, at least the wealthy got tax breaks. My break will be a whopping $200 for the year. I'd far rather lose the $200 and save a few lives. The EPA didn't get appropriately whacked. It got decimated so that a free Trump donors could become wealthier, and we are now 1 of only 3 countries in the world who are not trying to prevent further climate change issues (regardless of whether they were or were not man made), and losing the solar energy boom to China. Genius. I could go on, but I'll be waiting my time. Just focus on the first paragraph. If you knew how many very sick people are being tortured by Trump's policies maybe you would think a bit differently. But maybe not. Maybe you think its every person for themselves and health insurance shouldn't have to cover life savings treatments.
  • It's not about losing an election. It's about Trump being a vile and disgusting human being. He is the perfect example of how a person shouldn't act and his moral character invites people to hate him.
  • Well, just the other day , we saw that in order to "track down illegal immigrants" , Homeland security - ICE will have full access to License Plates monitoring, which was already in place for years now. essentially, it indiscriminately records all of us and our movement. Data is stored supposedly for 5 years. Now, let's imagine how that thing can get out of control when in wrong hands.
    We live in Orwellian state.
  • I agree with you Jerry, but I do think the responsibility lies with all of the above. Google, Amazon, Apple, the government (both parties), and other providers that permit this.
  • Striking a balance between privacy and security is possible. The problem with many programs is lack of independent third party oversight and adequate legal protections. Mass sweeping of data has not been proven to have "saved" or prevented anything. At least that I have heard of. The petabytes of data are essentially sitting around leaving it vulnerable to bad actors, errors and abuses of civil liberties. If you say" I have nothing to hide" and "don't care" about overcollection and inappropriate use of information you are IMO in some way, standing in opposition to the idea of civil liberty, free speech and ability to challenge government to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Exactly
  • English grammar. It's supposed to matter for Technical writers isn't it? Really sad the quality of tech writing is sometimes heading towards a text message.
    What's wrong with the article link title below...
    "Government surveillance needs restricted, not Google Assistant"
  • Human regulation & understanding are outpaced by technological advancement. We're moving too fast for our own good. Most are too dumb for the tech they have. We have $1k phones & use about $100 worth of features.
  • Take off the tin foil hat Jerry, it's going to be ok. My guess is this technology already exists in some form and/or level of government, and probably has for some time. However, you are safe for two simple reasons: 1- You just aren't that interesting or involved in anything that interesting to the gov't. 2- The employees working for the fed are too busy to be worried about you and definitely don't want to lose their salary/benefits and risk jail for violating the rights of the person mentioned in #1. I know the movies/tv and other media are completely accurate in everything, but you have been watching too much TV.
  • This by norans means you're safe.
  • Thanks Jerry, you are absolutely right.
    What sense does it mean to be "free" is you have to be concerned about getting sniffed out by the government without a personal warrant in a way so that you need to dismiss the future and new technologies to "stay safe".
    The problem is that not only the government, but also the people need a new way of thinking to approach this.
    Why should it be a problem in a free and open country when you "could" make profiles and everything. Why should it be of interest? As long as it is of interest of the government it's not the technology's fault. Then there is something wrong with that "free country". For me the technological progression is way too slow. We could be much much further. And now we should hinder even that slow progression? No, we need a a government that respect the freedom of all people as the ground for everything.
    There s no justification for saying Google & Co. should stop developing the most advanced technology because we fear it can be abused by governments. Then we have to change the government no matter what, because you are living in a non-free world.
  • sure, because having a company sell every Inch of your life is much better than giving my informations to "we the people" who have security interests instead of pure greed.
  • You Americans never cease to amaze; voice recognition data was used to identify Saddam and OBL?? That fodder might be palatable for trumpets and alike, but don't blame your stupidity on boogeymen barking 'orders from a cave' and buying Italian 'yellow cake'.