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Privacy is becoming a limited concept in our modern era.
Technology’s rapid advancement has expanded surveillance capabilities beyond our earlier imaginations.
From corporations gathering data for marketing purposes to governments shaping our actions and beliefs, our sense of personal agency is eroding.
Little remains confidential in our lives.
Though we may feel unnoticed, there are clues all around us revealing the pervasive tracking and easy accessibility of collected information.
Today, let’s explore 16 ways they have an absolute understanding of our lives, from sunrise to sunset and well into the night.
#1. Voice Assistants
Devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Siri are constantly listening to the words we utter, striving to grasp our unique speech patterns and seamlessly attend to our natural language queries.
This technology is designed to enhance the user experience, enabling a more intuitive and efficient interaction between humans and machines.
However, this power of machine learning also gives tech companies a direct line into our homes and our conversations.
In addition to voice recognition, these devices are equipped with cameras that can detect facial expressions, making them even more capable of collecting intimate information about us.
#2. Public Transit
Most people are aware that most public transit busses and trains have cameras.
But not many realize that some of these cameras also record your conversations.
There are have been some reports of NJ Transit busses recording conversations and keeping the files for up to a month.
Makes you think twice before talking about personal matters while riding public transit.
You read that right.
You invade your own privacy, primarily by posting updates on social media.
The more personal information you share, the more companies, the government, and even thieves have on you.
They then can turn around and use this information to scam you, sell you things, or use it against you.
#4. Car Black Boxes
With every passing year, our automobiles are becoming more and more sophisticated.
Among the many technological wonders built into our cars and trucks, the one that often goes unnoticed is the vehicle black box.
These devices record and store information about the vehicle’s operation, such as speed, braking patterns, and engine performance.
While this information can be invaluable in an accident or malfunction, many drivers are surprised to learn that the data gathered by these devices often include sensitive personal information such as our driving habits, GPS location, and even our conversations inside the vehicle.
Most even collect information from your entertainment system, including the music or podcasts you listen to.
#5. Cable Box
Much like your television collects your data, so too does your cable box.
As you sit in your living room, binging on your latest favorite shows, your cable box silently gathers data on your viewing habits, recording the channels you watch, the shows you love, and the ads you see.
This information is then used to create targeted ads, recommend new shows, and sell to third-party marketing companies.
#6. Clothing Stores
You might have noticed a new feature if you shopped online for clothing recently.
You can input your height, weight, and body type to get an idea of the right size shirt or pants to purchase.
This sounds simple enough, but the retailer is collecting this information about you and other shoppers to scale their business better.
For example, if they see big and tall men are their primary customers, they will order larger quantities of these sizes and less of regular ones.
Sounds innocent enough, but combine this with your address and credit card information when you complete a purchase, and they have a nice profile to sell to third parties.
#7. Loyalty Cards
Have you ever wondered how store loyalty cards can seemingly read your mind and offer you deals on the items you plan to buy at checkout?
The answer lies in the personal information these cards collect from you each time you use them.
From your name and email address to your purchase history and preferences, these cards allow retailers to build a comprehensive profile of your shopping habits and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.
In some cases, the stores may sell this data to third parties, which leads to spam mail and email offers.
If you ever attempt to withdraw or deposit a large amount of cash, prepare for the bank teller to ask where you got the money or what you will do with it.
For transactions over $10,000, there is a requirement that banks record the information and report it to the federal government.
But many banks are taking this one step further and keeping tabs on smaller transactions for internal purposes.
If a bank employee questions you about any transaction under $10,000, tell them it is none of their business and consider finding another bank.
#9. Private Security Cameras
Security cameras are everywhere, not just at businesses.
Many homeowners have surveillance systems, including doorbell cameras.
While these are beneficial for deterring thieves, you have to remember that you are being recorded whenever you go for a visit or even stroll by on your daily walk.
This might seem harmless, but what if you have a personal conversation?
#10. Smart Phones
Your phone is a hotbed for stealing your personal information.
In the fine print of many apps, they list that they track you, but most people ignore this.
They also ask for permission to access your photos and voice recorder.
Why do they want this info? They look at the behind-the-scenes data in your photos to see where and when you traveled.
For your microphone, they want to listen to your conversations so they can offer you products they hear you mention.
Of course, anytime you search on your phone, this data is also being collected.
At the end of the day, always remember that if an app is free, chances are it is collecting your info, including the popular app Waze.
#11. Smart TV
Smart TVs have rapidly become a common household item in recent years.
With high-quality displays and the ability to stream your favorite shows and movies, these devices have revolutionized how we consume entertainment.
However, many people might not know that these smart TVs collect your personal information.
Everything from your viewing habits to your browsing history and even your location can be tracked and analyzed by these devices if you connect the TV to the internet.
If that isn’t scary enough, more and more TVs are coming with a built-in camera.
The manufacturers claim they aren’t recording you, but do you trust them?
#12. Smart Devices
In today’s world of technology, the use of smart devices has become incredibly popular.
Smart devices like watches and fitness trackers are designed to make our lives easier, but have you stopped to consider just how much information they collect?
These devices track your every move, store your personal information, and even monitor what you say and type.
The same is true for digital assistants like Siri and Alexa.
While the convenience they offer is undeniable, it’s important to be aware of the potentially invasive nature of these devices and take steps to protect your privacy.
#13. Medical Devices
Medical devices have revolutionized how we diagnose and treat illnesses, but have you ever stopped to think about what happens to the personal information collected while using them?
Medical devices collect a vast amount of data, from heart rate to blood pressure to sleep patterns, all to improve your healthcare outcomes.
However, this data is often sensitive and can reveal intimate details about your life.
Do you know if you agreed for these devices to share this data with third parties?
If you purchase a firearm, you know chances are you will be subject to a background check.
But many people don’t realize smart firearms are coming on the scene.
These will have sensors that will only fire when the authorized person is holding them.
While this sounds like a great safety measure, the firearm will have to record your fingerprints, and who knows who will have access to this information.
Then there is the issue of needing to use a friend’s firearm to protect each other. Only it won’t fire because the right person isn’t holding it.
Yes, the signs you see along the highway, some of the newer ones collect your data.
As you drive by, they record your license plate to identify who you are.
They also record your speed, when you were driving, your vehicle, and more.
They then sell this data to advertisers.
#16. Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are great at helping you to be more accountable for your health.
Knowing how many calories you burn, how restful your sleep is, and how your body recovers are all great at improving your health.
But this is a lot of data these devices carry, and it is very personal.
Do you know what the company that owns the tracker does with your data?
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.