“The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror…The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off” – 1984, George Orwell.
Orwell’s famous 1984 has risen back to popularity given the recent political climate and the stark parallels of the U.S. administration’s use of “alternative facts” to Orwell’s fictional ‘untruth’.
It isn’t just alternative facts that has people concerned though, some governments are becoming concerned about the popularity of digital personal assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa and thesea devices are continually on standby, listening to surrounding conversations in order to activate to phrases ‘Alexa’ and ‘Ok Google’.
As a result, governments are calling for privacy disclosures and user consent to recording if the devices are continued to be sold legally, because, Big Brother. By no means are Google and Amazon using their devices to monitor users and instate their model of totalitarianism on the population (yet), but it is important that users become aware of these device’s continual background listening.
This is particularly relevant to EU nations as an incoming privacy regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enacted in May 2018, with private conversations potentially classified as personal data.
Whether this privacy disclosure and consent will be a simple signature upon purchase or a much more extensive contractual situation is yet to be seen but there’s no doubt that being eavesdropped 24/7 by your digital personal assistant gives Orwell vibes in all kinds of ways.