Concern growing about microphone privacy on smart phones, computers

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — All it takes is one Google search or Amazon purchase and you’ll see ads for similar products on almost every web page you use.

Now there’s growing concern about companies listening and targeting their ads to what we say via microphones on our devices.

We wanted to know is this audible big brother technology possible?

It’s no secret, when you use social media sites they have a good idea what you’re searching and buying online.

“Yeah! Exactly! Exactly! Kind of feel like some of your privacy is gone,” says Lesline Bartley who uses Facebook often.

That lack of privacy allows for advertisers to target consumers.

“Occasionally you’ll see that, like, wait a minute, I was just thinking that, or I need that,” says Bartley.

That has some wondering if companies are listening to our everyday conversations through the microphones in our devices.

“It’s certainly possible, but it’s relatively unlikely,” says Nathan Fisk, a professor of Cybersecurity Education at the University of South Florida.

He says it would take too much processing power and storage to do it right.

“As our phones get smarter and faster and as storage gets cheaper the capacity to do this kind of analysis exists, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw it in the future,” says Fisk.

Fisk says it’s not all about the technology. We are giving up our privacy freedoms with every download.

“They are certainly allowed to listen in if you allow them to listen in,” says Fisk.

Obviously this can be disturbing, but not enough to for many to make a lifestyle change.

The best way to stay safe is to turn off your microphone or camera, but in doing so you’re giving up the ability to use certain features like video chat or talking to Siri.

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