In our massively surveilled world of 2016, I’ve gotten to the point where I just assume I’m being recorded at all times.
Walk around a city street and you’ll notice cameras on corners conveniently monitoring the narrative.
It’s not like I wear a tinfoil hat every day, either. It’s just an unfortunate reality of the world we live in.
It’s why I’m saddened, but not all that surprised, about the details of a new lawsuit in San Francisco being filed against the Warriors and their app manufacturers.
First reported by The Recorder, the lawsuit is claiming that the Warriors’ app secretly records vocals of the user whenever the app is running. Microphones on smartphones pick up the chatter.
I have this app, and they give you an option to disable the microphone feature while using it, but it’s still alarming that there’s no mention of the extent they’re listening in or gathering information you spill.
— The Recorder (@RecorderTweets) September 1, 2016
If the app isn’t closed completely, it continues to pick up vocals even if when the user goes to another page or simply puts their phone away.
The lawsuit names the Golden State Warriors, Signal360, and Yinzcam as the defendants in the case.
Signal360 licenses the technology at issue while Yinzcam is the developer of the app. Signal360 COO Lauren Cooley denied the allegations.
“Our technology does not intercept, store, transmit, or otherwise use any oral content for marketing purpose or for any other purpose,” said Cooley.
The lawyers who originally filed the lawsuit claim that beacon technology is used to track where users of the app are.
These beacons are set up in various areas and send out signals that get picked up by the smartphone’s microphone, and it indicates where the person is using their phone from. Based on that location, adds are then sent to the user for things within that general region.
— The Recorder (@RecorderTweets) August 31, 2016
There’s an important distinction to be made here. It sounds like the Warriors didn’t develop this app to purposefully hear what fans were saying, but that it’s an unfortunate by-product of the technology at hand.
I’m not sure if that matters, or if it makes the invasion of privacy any less severe, but intention is clearly important, at least from a moral standpoint.
It’s still creepy that individual location is tracked, but I think the public has largely become desensitized to that in this digital age.
I’m not sure if there’s a way that we can have our cake and eat it, too. Smartphones offer remarkable technological capability in the palm of our hands. It’d be hard to give that up.
Privacy is one of the defining issues of our time. I don’t want to rush to judgement in this specific case, but I’ll make sure to disable my microphone while using the app and hard close it whenever I’m finished using it from now on.