Alexa, Google, Siri…and you want privacy?

Recently there’s been a lot of talk in the bookkeeping world about the use of Alexa and the likes. Personally I don’t own any such device but many people do; CPAs, bookkeepers and business owners alike.

Let’s not be naive and think these devices are not always listening to us, if they weren’t they wouldn’t know when to answer us. But it also begs the question, what about our phones and other devices?

I have an iPhone and an iPad so Siri is available to me. I have not activated the “voice activation” on either device but does that really mean Siri’s not listening to me? I don’t know!

What about all those people that do have the voice activation working, obviously their phones and other devices are listening. Being a bookkeeper, I discuss the business financials with the business owners and their CPA. As fellow CPB Kellie Parks so eloquently said “We are acct’g professionals, beta testers – the ultimate safe harbours of sensitive information.”. How can we be “safe harbours” if we have all this AI technology listening to our conversations?

We have become so reliant on our devices that we don’t seem to really care who’s listening anymore. Ultimately, if it was that much of a concern we would turn off all our devices when we’re in our workplace or anywhere discussing confidential information. Hardly practical and I don’t know anybody that does this.

Have you ever given any thought to this? It’s certainly worthy of some mulling over and consciously deciding whether or not any of this concerns you, and if so, deciding what steps you are willing to take in an effort to maintain some semblance of privacy.

1 Comment

  1. Kellie parks on August 1, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Very thought provoking. And I’m just not sure what to do about it all. But I have somewhat given in. Convenience and automation – moving forward as technology allows? Given that all my work is online based, and I beta for tech companies I moved on a little with my concerns last week and have started asking Alexa to do things for me in my business. She’s sending emails, adding tasks to ClickUp, setting reminders and telling me the time. I’d not had her in my office until then. I had fully smart homed my cabin and Alexa did my bidding there for the last few years. Thought I was super smart keeping her in the house till a friend asked me if I kept my iPhone on while in my office. At that point it was all over in my mind. I acquiesced to the fact that something will be listening while I’m working and have embraced how much Alexa can do for me.

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