How Google is secretly recording Android settlers, monitoring millions of conversations every day and storing the creepy audio files

Google “has effectively turned millions of its users’ smartphones into listening devices that can capture intimate conversations – even when they aren’t in the room,” Margi Murphy reports for The Sun. “If you own an Android phone, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s Assistant, which is similar to Apple’s Siri. Google says it only turns on and begins recording when you utter the words ‘OK Google.’ But a Sun investigation has found that the virtual assistant is a little hard of hearing.”

“In some cases, just saying ‘OK’ in conversation prompted it to switch on your phone and record around 20 seconds of audio,” Murphy reports. “It regularly switches on the microphone as you go about your day-to-day activities, none the wiser.”

“Once Google is done recording, it uploads the audio files to its computer servers – often dubbed ‘the cloud.’ These files are accessible from absolutely anywhere in the world – as long as you have an internet connection. That means any device that is signed into your personal Gmail or Google account can access the library of your deepest, darkest secrets. So if you’re on a laptop right now and signed into Gmail – you could have a listen,” Murphy reports. “The Sun Online discovered recordings from when the phone’s owner was not in the room – and even revealed a romantic interlude between two mystery colleagues.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: People who value their privacy certainly do not use Google products.

This ‘don’t be evil’ mantra: It’s bullshit.Steve Jobs, 2010

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Google to pay $5.5 million for sneaking around Apple’s privacy settings to collect user data – August 31, 2016
Apple takes a swing at privacy-tampling, personal data-guzzling rivals like Google – September 29, 2015
Apple reinvents the privacy policy – September 29, 2015
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Edward Snowden supports Apple’s stance on customer privacy – June 17, 2015
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Understanding Apple and privacy – June 8, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple slams Google in Safari 7.1 release notes: ‘Adds DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track users’ – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Google to pay $17 million to settle U.S. states’ Safari user tracking probe – November 20, 2013
Judge dismisses case against Google over Safari user tracking – October 11, 2013
UK Apple Safari users sue Google for secretly tracking Web browsing – January 28, 2013
Google pays $22.5 million to settle charges of bypassing Apple Safari privacy settings – August 9, 2012
US FTC votes to fine Google $22.5 million for bypassing Safari privacy settings; Settlement allows Google to admit no liability – July 31, 2012
Google’s D.C. lobbyists have outspent Apple nearly 10 to 1 so far this year – July 23, 2012
Google to pay $22.5 million to settle charges over bypassing privacy settings of millions of Apple users – July 10, 2012
Apple’s anti-user tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling – May 9, 2012
Google said to be negotiating amount of U.S. FTC fine over Apple Safari breach – May 4, 2012
Cookies and privacy, Google and Safari – February 25, 2012
Obama’s privacy plan puts pinch on Google – February 24, 2012
Obama administration outlines online privacy guidelines – February 23, 2012
Google sued by Apple Safari-user for bypassing browser privacy – February 21, 2012
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Google’s tracking of Safari users could prompt FTC investigation – February 18, 2012
WSJ: Google tracked iPhone, iPad users, bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings; Microsoft denounces – February 17, 2012


  1. There is an innocuous little movie out there, currently available on iTunes called The Circle. I do not believe it did very well in the theaters because I just watched it out of boredom the other day.

    It depicts a FaceBook/Google like company and how these people gather information and how they intend to use it. It’s nothing special, but its one of the first attempts I’ve seen to show not only how these companies (Apple included) might invade privacy and gather way too much personal information, but also how they create (if I might borrow from Apple’s 1984 commercial), “Gardens of pure ideology,” which is interesting in light of the Google Diversity Memo that went viral a week or so ago.

    That Chinese curse, the one that says “May you live in interesting times,” well we passed interesting a long time ago. We’re past fascinating and well into freakish.

    1. Mark Zuckerberg considered running for president of the U.S. — After what we’ve seen, he could actually win, even with his insufferable arrogance, bare feet on the table, loony-tune ideas, and unforced errors. But if we’re going with maverick celebrities in the White House, I’d prefer someone like Mark Cuban, also an infomaven and a shark but with more finesse. We would all appreciate a little more finesse.

      1. No successful CEO will want to run for president after the current debacle.

        The noble idea of running a country and government like an efficient business has largely proven to be a silly fantasy, and then you have to deal with all the other political crap from all sides, even your own.

        Also, when the Democrats take over, I sure hope there’ll be legislation to close all the loopholes and clarify all the ambiguities that 45 exploited before and after becoming president. Force the release of tax statements, force a further separation from any business interests, etc.

  2. Interesting. Though at some point I would expect some data deletion going on to keep storage requirements manageable. This audio data collection as permanent storage seems unlikely considering how much storage Google already ‘gives’ away to each user account (15GB standard + 2yrs of 100GB for each Chromebook bought and registered) before you have to buy any..

  3. I’m shocked that google is involved with spying on Americans while recording our phone conversations, they track us on our searches, why not. Stop using google, the more we use them the more power they get there is so many alternatives, startpage  Gibiru  Ixquick so why are we so in love with google.

  4. I use Google Hangout. Not for sensitive conversations, and I know that makes me sound a bit paranoid perhaps.

    Apple’s future Hangout application will be most welcome, as long as it’s browser-based.

  5. hi MDN,

    you commented “People who value their privacy certainly do not use Google products.”
    but Sun article mentions Apple records voice data too and though it does not say Apple listens or send gov. that data, how do we know what Apple really does with your personal data?

  6. “People who value their privacy certainly do not use Google products.”

    Ergo MDN doesn’t value anyone’s privacy since they are longtime users of Google Adsense. Do you think we are stupid or are you just always a hypocrite?

  7. This is the raison d’etre for LineageOS. According to its Wikipedia page, it’s Android without the spyware and bloatware. That’s the great thing about open source software – if it does something you don’t like, you can change it and then you can even release your fork (derivative) so other others can use it.

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