Ok Google. Hey Siri? Alexa! Voice recognition has become commonplace for millions of people around the world as consumers become more reliant on the virtual assistants that come with our smart phones and speakers. And while these AI-powered assistants quietly listen for our commands, who else is on the other end?

The short answer is pretty much everyone. That’s because while your device is listening for your command, it’s also listening to your conversations and giving that information to other applications on your phone. So it might not be a coincidence that after telling your friends you need new athletic shoes, you see an advertisement for trainers while scrolling through Instagram.

“From time to time, snippets of audio do go back to [other apps like Facebook’s] servers but there’s no official understanding what the triggers for that are,” explains Dr Peter Henway, a senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterix. Henway made the remarks in an interview last year published by Vice.

Whistleblowers from Apple, Google, and Amazon claim workers regularly listen to private conversations - like those between a doctor and patient, as well as sexual encounters, and even criminal acts.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Alex Salkever @AlexSalkever
Writer, futurist, technology leader

Sam Jadali @sam_jadali  
Cybersecurity researcher

Lily Hay Newman @lilyhnewman
Security reporter, WIRED

Read more: 
Rise of voice recognition creates new cyber security threat - techworld
How tech companies track your every move and put your data up for sale - NPR 

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