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.




Freedom and Privacy Technology Ubuntu

Question the Magic (QTM): Em-Sense Watch

Question the magic.

It just came to me.  It’s a new way of thinking that needs to start happening and it needs to start happening *yesterday*.  After the invention of the television, humanity started shutting off our brains.  It was ‘magic’ how that visual image came through thin air into their homes.

It was ‘magic’ how the cell phones connect us to the world wherever we go.

It was ‘magic’ how the computer turns on and connects to the whole world.

It was ‘magic’ how the phone in my pocket started connecting to the whole world.

It was ‘magic’ how gmail started showing advertisements for stuff I was actually thinking about shopping for…. before I started shopping.

It was ‘magic’ how ads on google search engines started feeling very, very, very relevant to what I was searching.

It was ‘magic’ how my mobile phone just connected and synchronized photos with my computer.

It was ‘magic’ how the fob on my keychain lets me into my elevator, my front door, the amenity room, yet keeps others out.

It was ‘magic’ how if I lock my keys out of my car I was able to have some friendly folks open them remotely.

All of this and more was so ‘magic’….


It wasn’t magic at all.  None of it.  Not one bit of it.
It was all planned, in advance, by people behind closed doors.

And none of them told you about the risks this ‘magic’ brings to your life.  Just like black magic, there is a price to pay for allowing someone else control of your life.

It’s time to question the magic.

For the first episode of QTM, allow me to introduce to you, the Em-Sense Watch.

the magic

This watch can sense pretty much anything you are touching.  When it senses what you are touching, it can react accordingly (smart) and do stuff that makes your life blissful and trendy.

the risk

Do you have the source code for this?  If you touch an object, does it report back to the mothership?  For the IHNTH (I-Have-Nothing-to-Hide) folks, who always say ‘It doesn’t matter, IHNTH”, how about this simple question: is there anything, or anyone, that your hand has touched in the last little while that you would not want someone knowing anything about?  Are you sure you have *nothing* to hide?  And even if you truly don’t, which is great, by putting something like this on, you are are a walking RFID reader and transmitter.  Everything you touch.  Everything you are near.  All of it.  Tracked.  Or potentially tracked.  Final note: just having the name ‘Disney’ on this should be your biggest red flag *ever*.  Run for the hills on this device, people.

the solution

This will probably always be the solution but in order for this technology to be of any value without being a serious risk to everyone’s privacy, it would necessitate open source software (ie. ubuntu snappy) and the ability to authorize *every* attempt to connect to anything outside of the watch itself.  It would also need a feature where, if stolen, you could initiate a full remote memory wash.