Is your smartphone listening in on your conversations?

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It's a creepy feeling when it appears your cellphone has been listening in on your conversations. 

While it may seem that way, Consumer Reports said that's probably not what's happening.

"This is something that researchers have looked at a lot. And, despite all those weird feelings, they've yet to find any evidence that phones and the apps on them are actually recording or listening to your conversation," said Consumer Reports tech editor Bree Fowler.

Fowler said your phone has much more efficient ways for companies to figure out what you're interested in without recording your conversations.

"Researchers found that apps on phones will do things like take screenshots or use your GPS to track where you're going or even collect video of what you're doing on your phone," Fowler said. "All of this can be used to created targeted ads."

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So, how do you explain having a conversation about something like shoes and then seeing an ad for them pop up on your phone screen? Fowler said it's likely you did a Google search for shoes or mapped directions to a shoe store. 

The amount of data companies have is staggering. 

Consumer Reports said one way to limit their access is to avoid using the universal sign-on features for Google and Facebook.  

Another is to monitor the permissions you give each app. If an app doesn't really need to know  your location, don't allow it and take away its access to that data.

Apple is focusing on digital privacy with its latest operating system. Several new features, including its own sign-on service, are designed to give people more power over how much of their information they share.
 

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