[nexa] How to stop your smart home spying on you | Technology | The Guardian

Antonio Casilli antonio.casilli at telecom-paris.fr
Mon Mar 9 09:30:06 CET 2020

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De: "Alberto Cammozzo" <ac+nexa at zeromx.net>
À: "nexa" <nexa at server-nexa.polito.it>
Envoyé: Lundi 9 Mars 2020 09:00:55
Objet: [nexa] How to stop your smart home spying on you | Technology | The	Guardian


Everything in your smart home, from the lightbulbs to the thermostat,
could be recording you or collecting data about you. What can you do to
curb this intrusion?

During an interview with the BBC last year, Google’s senior
vice-president for devices and services, Rick Osterloh, pondered whether
a homeowner should disclose the presence of smart home devices to
guests. “I would, and do, when someone enters into my home,” he said.

When your central heating thermostat asks for your phone number, your TV
knows what you like to watch and hackers can install spyware in your
home through a lightbulb security flaw, perhaps it’s time we all started
taking smart home privacy issues more seriously. Just this week the
National Cyber Security Centre issued a warning to owners of smart
cameras and baby monitors to review their security settings.

You can get a quick overview of privacy options for many smart home
devices using the Mozilla “*privacy not included” guide; however if
you’ve already invested in particular technology, all is not lost. A few
configuration tweaks could help put you back in control when it comes to
balancing device performance with data privacy (and they don’t involve
wearing anything like the ludicrous-looking “bracelet of silence”, which
jams smart device microphones, as recently demonstrated by a team from
Chicago University).
Is your smart TV watching as you watch telly?

When the FBI, no less, warns users that their televisions could be
listening to and watching them, maybe it’s time to reflect upon how dumb
we are when it comes to smart TVs. Let’s face it, most of us buy a big
TV with all the internet streaming and programme guide functionality we
can afford and kick back in front of it. Beyond the initial tuning in of
stations and maybe adjusting the colour to our taste, there’s not much
configuration tweaking that goes on – which is a mistake when both
privacy and security issues are in the picture. TVs nowadays connect to
the internet, have web browsers, run apps, and can be controlled by your
voice; automatic content recognition (ACR) watches what you see, from TV
programmes to games, and the resulting data can target you for
personalised advertising and produce viewing recommendations – often
across various platforms. You probably agreed to ACR being used when you
were setting up your new telly. To disable it – although this varies
from TV to TV – head for the general or advanced settings and look for a
“viewing information” or “viewing data” option. This will stop some
“smart” things like recommendations, and even some voice activation
functions, from working properly, so bear in mind that ACR data is
anonymised before heading for the off button.
Reduce the smart speaker ‘threat surface’

Smart speakers and digital assistants come in many guises; what they all
have in common is that, by necessity, they are always listening. Recent
research suggests that 59% of smart speaker users have privacy concerns,
with unwanted listening and data collection being front and centre.

Of course, only you can determine whether having a voice-controlled
“Star Trek computer” in your home outweighs those privacy concerns. It
is possible, however, to retain the smart performance while minimising
the privacy “threat surface”. To prevent the Amazon Alexa or Google
Assistant account holder from being able to view any requests you’ve
made or questions you’ve asked, you can tell Alexa to “delete what I
just said” and Google Assistant to “delete my last conversation”. This
does require the account holder to have enabled the “delete by voice”
option in their settings, though. If you are the account holder, you can
use the “voice match” function for Google Assistant to prevent your
results from being available to anyone who simply asks for them. You can
manage how Amazon uses your data by opening the Alexa app and heading
for Settings | Alexa Privacy and toggling the “help improve Amazon
services” option off along with the “use messages to improve
transcriptions” setting. Google Assistant users can use the Home app via
Settings | More Settings | Your Data to pause collection of any more
voice recordings. However, Google warns that this can “limit or disable”
more personalised experiences across Google as a result.
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