Freedom and Privacy, Technology

Question the Magic (QTM): Google Tone

If you haven’t been following the ‘question the magic’ series that I’ve recently started, welcome!  You can see our inaugural post here about a really ‘fun’ watch sponsored by our friends over at the wonderful world of Disney.

Today a new ‘magic’ technology was presented to me, being researched by the small and non-invasive company called Google.  I’m sure Google has the highest morals and ethics and would never consider any other application (like advertising) to take advantage of you installing this (or someone near you).

It’s called Google Tone

the magic

This little piece of technology can ‘magically’ turn your website URL into an audible tone which then flutters peacefully like a dove through the air, then through the little microphone hole in your device (you name the device, they all have mics these days) and then perches somewhere in there (they probably won’t show us the source code to check exactly what’s it’s doing).

the risk

Do you have the source code for this?  Who has vetted it and every detail of what it’s doing?  But even if it was ‘super safe’ let’s be honest – all you need to do is decode the audio and boom – whoever is within ear shot of you knows *exactly* what you are looking at online.   No more would someone need to break through your secure home network to find out, because the information is just floating through the air like a wifi signal.

the solution

Honestly, I think the only solution for this one is to never use it.  Even if incredible technology exists to encrypt that audio signal (this is possible) it’s just such a potential risk to your freedom. However, it could be safe(r) if the project was 100% open source and the security levels of encryption and everything was made available to inspect and improve.  This project looks like similar ideas/technology but much safer But I would strongly recommend against any ‘magic’ that uses a microphone or a camera.




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