Class action lawsuit filed over accusations that Apple and Google are recording users without their knowledge


According to reports, a recent lawsuit alleges that the virtual assistants of big tech companies like Apple and Google are listening in on users even when they are not supposed to.

A judge has ruled that Apple will have to fight a lawsuit brought by users in federal court in California which alleges that Apple’s voice assistant Siri is improperly recording users’ conversations. 

The Washington Post reported that the judge ruled that the lawsuit would continue despite Apple’s many attempts to have the suit thrown out. 

Judge Jeffrey S. White of the federal district court in Oakland did dismiss one element of the lawsuit, which involved users’ economic harm.

However, he did finally rule that the plaintiffs could continue pursuing allegations that Siri activated without prompting and recorded user conversations that it shouldn’t have.

The lawsuit also alleges that the data was then passed on to third parties, thus violating user privacy. This recent lawsuit, which aims to gain class-action status, is just one of many brought against Google, Apple, and Amazon over the companies’ voice assistants.

As of this writing, the tech giants have denied that their voice assistants are spying on conversations and only listen in for “wake words” and to receive commands.

Reuters reported that Judge White said the plaintiffs could try to prove Siri routinely recorded their private conversations because of “accidental activations,” and that Apple disclosed those conversations to third parties, such as advertisers. Voice assistants typically react when mobile device owners use “hot words” such as “Hey, Siri.”

One Siri user said his private discussions with his doctor about a “brand name surgical treatment” caused him to receive targeted ads for that treatment, while two others said their discussions about Air Jordan sneakers, Pit Viper sunglasses, and “Olive Garden” caused them to receive ads for those products. White wrote:

“Apple faults plaintiffs for not alleging the contents of their communications, but the private setting alone is enough to show a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The Oakland, California-based judge said the plaintiffs may pursue claims that Apple violated the federal Wiretap Act and California privacy law, and committed breach of contract. He dismissed an unfair competition claim.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said that Amazon only stores user audio when a wake word is used and even then only a “small fraction” of user audio is manually reviewed. A similar suit to the one recently filed against Apple has been taken against Google.

That suit is also going through the federal court system in California. On July 1st, another federal judge in California said users of Google’s Voice Assistant, represented by the same law firms as in the Apple case, could pursue a similar lawsuit against Google and its parent Alphabet Inc.

In seeking dismissal of that suit, Google said the plaintiffs failed to show they were harmed or that it broke any contractual guarantees. The big tech company said:

“Google never promises that the Assistant will activate only when plaintiffs intend it to.”

The proposed class seeking unspecified damages includes U.S. purchasers of Google Assistant-enabled devices since May 18, 2016.

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman wrote in her 37-page decision that the plaintiffs showed they used Google Assistant-enabled devices often enough to have had a reasonable expectation of privacy when speaking.

She added that while Google disclosed in its privacy policy how it collects information for targeted advertising, “it does not sufficiently apprise users that it will use recordings made in the absence of manual activation or a hot word utterance.”

According to eMarketer, it is estimated that 128 million people in the United States use a voice assistant on a monthly basis. This means that potential privacy issues could cause major complications for big tech companies.

Breitbart News has also reported on privacy issues relating to Amazon’s Alexa and the sheer amount of voice data recorded by those devices.

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Sen. Blackburn sends letter to Biden, slams administration for working with big tech to censor Americans

July 21st, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Monday, July 19th, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter to President Joe Biden slamming his administration for working with big tech companies in an effort to censor Americans’ free speech regarding COVID-19.

In her letter, she demanded information on the administration’s recent collaboration with Facebook to flag content it considers to be coronavirus “disinformation.”

Blackburn also noted that White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that Americans who are banned on one social media platform should also be banned on similar big tech platforms.

She stated that the Biden administration’s actions “mirror” the worst aspects of authoritarian countries such as Cuba. The letter stated, in part:

“These revelations are deeply concerning. The blatant actions by your administration to work with big tech companies to censor Americans’ free speech are shocking and arguably a violation of the First Amendment.”

The Tennessee Republican added:

“Communist countries such as Cuba are currently taking away their citizens’ right to use the internet to communicate; the U.S. government should be standing up to, not looking to mirror, authoritarian regimes such as these.”

Blackburn then demanded to know what criteria the Biden administration uses to censor Americans and how they determine what coronavirus “disinformation” is. She wrote:

1. What criteria are you directing social media platforms to use to flag and remove posts?

2. What criteria are you directing social media platforms to use to ban users?

3. In your July 15th press briefing, you stated that 12 people are responsible for “65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.” Who are those accounts and have they, or others, been removed at your direction?

4. What is the legal basis for your administration’s decision to direct social media platforms to flag and remove posts from their sites?

5. Does the White House have staff dedicated to searching social media for content to flag for removal?

Recently, Psaki revealed that the Biden administration is:

“Regularly making sure social media platforms are aware of the latest narratives, dangerous to public health that we and many other Americans are seeing across all of social and traditional media.”

Psaki added:

“As you all know, information travels quite quickly. If it’s up there for days and days and days. When people see it, you know, there’s…it’s hard work to put that back in a box and of course promoting quality information algorithms. I don’t know how they work, but they all do know how they work.”

In her letter, Blackburn requested to be briefed on the answers to her questions by August 2nd. On Friday, July 16th, as the president was leaving the White House, he accused Facebook of “killing people” by allowing what he deems as “misinformation” on COVID-19 vaccines to be shared on its site.

A reporter asked the president, “On COVID misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” To which he responded by saying:

“They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated and they’re killing people.”

Facebook has since released a statement appearing to object to Biden’s statement, arguing that the company is actually saving lives, not ending them. In their statement, Facebook said:

“We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.”

Facebook added:

“More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

Psaki and Biden’s comments prompted many responses on social media from users expressing dismay over the close relationship between the White House and Facebook to stifle information it deemed to be “misinformation.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted:

“The Biden Administration just announced they are working with Facebook to censor more Americans. Big Tech and Big Government want the same thing…to control you. As a reminder, America is land of FREEDOM.”

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Biden administration suggests monitoring private texts on SMS carriers to “dispel misinformation”

July 14th, 2021

The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

WASHINGTON, DC- We honestly hate to keep beating a dead horse (sorry PETA), however the more we go on with the current administration, the more it begins to resemble “Big Brother” in the dystopian George Orwell novel 1984.

We’ve already been exposed to state-run media such as CNN and MSNBC doing the administration’s bidding, quashing any dissent from the Biden administration narrative on matters from crime to the border to the coronavirus vaccine.

Tech tyrants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and others have also been willing accomplices in the left’s propaganda schemes.

We saw Amazon’s AWS shut down social media upstart Parler when it became the social media platform of choice for conservatives, tired of being censored, throttled or shadow banned on the left-leaning platforms.

This after both Apple and Google Play deleted the app from their app stores.

There isn’t too much left. Perhaps the last bastion of communication (there are options such as Telegram, Signal, Rumble and a couple of others) is text messaging.

Now, a report in of all places Politico indicates that may be the next domino to fall in the Biden administration’s desperate propaganda campaign to control all messaging regarding—well pretty much everything.

According to Politico:

Biden allied groups, including the Democratic National Committee, are also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages. [emphasis added] The goal is to ensure that people who may have difficulty getting a vaccination because of issues like transportation see those barriers lessened or removed entirely.

“We are steadfastly committed to keeping politics out of the effort to get every American vaccinated so that we can save lives and help our economy further recover,” White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said.

“When we see deliberate efforts to spread misinformation, we view that as an impediment to the country’s public health and will not shy away from calling that out.” [emphasis added]

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head government COVID propagandist has been repeating, along with others that 99.5% of all COVID-related deaths occurring are among the unvaccinated. Well gee, that would seen to make sense. However one other factor is that in May, the CDC changed their testing guidelines to reduce what’s referred to as the PCR cycle threshold for vaccinated patients.

In other words, what this means is those who are vaccinated are far less likely to have COVID detected in the first place. This was done in order to quash the number of so-called “breakthrough cases” that were being reported in order to allay concerns about the efficacy of the vaccines, however this was also used in order to push unvaccinated over to getting the jab.

Likewise, deaths attributed to COVID-19 are still being dominated by elderly, who are more susceptible to the virus.

This allows officials to “game” the numbers, since people who have already been vaccinated can have their deaths attributed to causes other than COVID (you know, like it used to be in the pre-COVID days) while any unvaccinated people who die will have it attributed to COVID.

Just like before when if someone died in a motorcycle accident yet they tested positive, their death was classified as “COVID-related.”

While we look 90 miles south of Miami and see Cubans begging for their freedom while waving American flags, our own government is acting in many ways exactly the same as communist Cuba—suppressing speech, punishing political enemies, and monitoring citizens’ communications.

Now, we hear that they may be working with carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and others to suppress communications between American citizens. While leftists pooh-pooh claims that they are engaging in socialist or communist tactics, their actions speak for themselves.

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One person who was shocked by what he read was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY).

“Please tell me this is a typo:

“…also planning to engage fact-checkers more aggressively and work with SMS carriers to dispel misinformation about vaccines that is sent over social media and text messages.”

Back to 1984. In that book, the main character named Winston Smith warns of the dangers of a totalitarian government which uses fear, surveillance, propaganda, and brainwashing to rule over the masses.

We have seen at least three of those four actively being used in the Biden administration and the fourth is well underway.

The book goes on, but you get the point. The latest threat by the Biden administration—to actively monitor communications between Americans and censor that which they believe to be misinformation is beyond the pale.

This of course comes on the heels of the administration saying they were going to be sending their government minions door to door to see who’s complying with Big Brother Biden, a neo-Marxist goon squad if you will.

One can imagine how that conversation is going to go. Nothing like the government version of the Jehovah’s Witnesses going from house-to-house browbeating Americans about getting vaccinated.

White House Propaganda Minister Jen Psaki first exposed the scheme last week, who informed the assembled press corps that Biden’s bozos would be fanning out across the country to harass the American people.

Biden confirmed Psaki’s statement last week and said the administration was focusing on “communities where vaccination rates are low.”

According to Gateway Pundit, the administration is already targeting Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk who has been trying to get the message out regarding the administration’s vaccine obsession.

 “Organizations that are feeding misinformation and trying to mischaracterize this type of trusted-messenger work, I believe you are doing a disservice to the country and to the doctors, the faith leaders, community leaders and others who are working to get people vaccinated, save lives, and help end this pandemic,” babbled White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients at a news conference last week.

Last week, Kirk, appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight said he was going to embark on a “massive public relations campaign” around vaccination efforts, which he said were comparable to an “Apartheid-style open air hostage situation.”

Politico said that Turning Point USA had sent out SMS messages urging people to sign petitions on the subject of vaccinations. In one message viewed by Politico, Kirk alleged, “Biden is sending goons DOOR-TO-DOOR to make you take a Covid-19 vaccine. Sign the petition to: No medical raids in America.

As Gateway Pundit noted, since the radical left has already managed to get control over the internet [Google] and censors social media posts [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram] and blog posts, “it was a matter of time until they started censoring text messages.”

All of this could have been seen coming last year, when power-mad Democrat governors kept pushing and nudging their residents, all in the name of “safety and security,” to see how much a restriction on their liberty and freedom they were willing to take. Then answer was, quite a bit. According to an opinion column penned by Mary Chastain in Legal Insurrection:

Are you shocked? Biden wants people to go door-to-door to check your vaccine status. They want to force people to get the vaccine.

The White House said local officials and figures will knock on doors and they will only provide information. That’s supposed to make it better? I don’t think so. If you’re vaccinated, you’re fine. If you don’t want the vaccine, you don’t have to get it. You know the risks.

Do any of you guys watch baseball games on SNY? Every single commercial break has at least one vaccine commercial. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said the government has every right to know if you got the COVID vaccine.

Biden COVID adviser Jeff Zients asserted the government will go “community to community, neighborhood by neighborhood, person by person” to get all Americans vaccinated.

Don’t forget FEMA mentioned the COVID vaccine first when talking about preparing for hurricanes. Honestly, you should have all your vaccines during storm seasons. Not just COVID.

I don’t deny that some people on the right have taken it to the extreme making people think the FBI will come to your door and stab you with the vaccine. Just simply say, “My body, my choice!” but I guess that goes out the window when it’s not infanticide. The government has absolutely no right to anything, especially when it comes to your medical records.

So there you have it. It started with social media, then books on Amazon, and now it’s going to text messaging. How long before they censor what you’re able to watch on television? Just a few short years ago, that would have seemed impossible. Now? Not so much.

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