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Our TVs Are Listening…What About Our Consumer Rights?

Today’s technological age has birthed thousands of devices, innovated, designed, and created to make our life more simple and bring us into the new tech age. What comes with simplicity, however, includes legal complexity as we realize that with every fantastic addition made to our electronic devices comes some sort of drawback that may have an effect on our legal rights, largely in the privacy area.

Data Wearables: The Start of Our Data Mining

One example, with the new influx of wearable biometric data devices, we are learning more about how we sleep, how we eat, our breathing and blood pressure, and the number of steps that we take in a day. That information stored can have a great impact on our daily routine. But, having our basic, anatomical and biometric data online is leaving us with our days recorded and the information at the fingertips of anyone interested, including the police. The data wearables are not the only devices that are making us feel like Big Brother is watching.

Smart TVs: A Recording Device in Our Homes

Recently, the Samsung’s smart TV’s fine print was magnified, which exposed Samsung’s newest feature, voice recognition software, for what it is: a recording device. According to Samsung, when the voice activation technology has been flipped on, the TV will be listening and recording conversations in hopes that the consumer will provide it specific demands. If no demands materialize, the background noise within the consumer’s TV watching area will be recorded and transmitted back to Samsung…or third parties. The third party was hypothesized to be the company that is supplying Samsung the speech-to-text technology.

Data Mined for “Research Purposes”: Is That Harmful?

But what Samsung is less open about is the use of the data for “research purposes.” This is where companies like Samsung and Google are getting double takes from consumers. Data mining is a concept wherein the data that companies like Samsung and Google get from us is then aggregated, which provides a comprehensive picture of each person that has been targeted. The aggregate data and this comprehensive picture allows these companies to temper what they know about the person and try to pitch more products, devices, and other companies that might complement the purchasing and data behavior of the person involved. Though the idea is to better sell to each individual, having this aggregate information and comprehensive picture can hint at protected information about the person, especially if it’s controversial and the person does not want anyone else to know.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling on Aggregate Information

The Supreme Court has dealt with this issue regarding aggregate information and found that this comprehensive picture is a violation of another person’s right to privacy in the context of a law enforcement agent attaching a GPS to the person’s car. In this situation, the Court ruled that a warrant was necessary to include tracking devices on a person’s car because though the person was taking public streets and that information is available to the public, the aggregate information of where the person was going for an extended period of time violates a person’s expectation of privacy because the comprehensive picture created by the aggregate data can hint at the person and confidential information about him/her.

Though the Supreme Court was looking at law enforcement actions and not private tech company actions, the basic premise is the same: aggregate information “mined” either by GPS tracking or by data tracking is a violation of person’s expectation of privacy. The only difference is that as consumers it is up to us to decide to sell our expectation of privacy for use of the product.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Technology is becoming the center of a recent debate about what constitutes evidence, and your electronic devices can be turned against you during your criminal proceeding. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can advocate on your behalf and make sure that evidence is not used against you unfairly. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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