Study shows phones secretly record screens instead of listening conversations

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The speculations about smartphones secretly recording conversations prompted researchers to investigate about it. Though they did not find any evidence of our phones recording us, researchers did find something similar.

After a year of research, Northeastern University researchers found no confirmation that our phones secretly record users to serve them targeted ads. Instead, they discovered that in few cases, our phones are watching users by recording the screen and sending it to third parties, reported Gizmodo.

The study was conducted over the past year for testing theory suggesting that phones secretly record users. This theory became so popular that users started to believe that if they mention any product in real life, social media sites like Facebook will show an ad related to that product.

Around 17,260 of most popular Android apps were analyzed. These apps also included those that send data to Facebook via an automated program that interacted with the apps and noted the media files being sent from them.

The findings resulted in no proof of those apps turning the phone’s microphone abruptly and sent audio, but they did find that few apps sent screen recordings and screenshots to third parties. In the examples stated by the report, few apps did not mention this practice in their privacy policy, despite being common. When contacted by researchers, the app updated its privacy policy.

Also, the study has few limitations. The researchers did not state that phones never secretly record conversations, they just didn’t find any evidence to back it up. The study will be presented next month at the Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium Conference in Barcelona.


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