John Borthwick
Image: YouTube/Yahoo Finance

In an interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer, top tech investor and Betaworks CEO, John Borthwick said that the information gathering by smart devices from the likes of Google and Amazon is “surveillance.”

“From a consumer standpoint, user standpoint, is that these– these [smart] devices are being used for what’s– it’s hard to call it anything but surveillance,” said Borthwick.

Interestingly, this comes a few days after Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft painstakingly admitted that human contractors listen to user conversations in order to improve voice recognition efficiency of the devices.

Complaining about Google’s data synthesizing practices, John Borthwick also said: “I think that we’ve sort of tripped over a line, which many people are now calling surveillance and I think is– is– is wrong.”

Although skeptics always believed humans are listening to our conversations with digital assistants, the truth only came out recently. In April, Bloomberg reported that Amazon keeps a global team of human contractors that listen to user’s conversations with Amazon’s Alexa assistant.

Following that, another news website published a report stating that the same is the case with Google Assistant. Then, the same news reports emerged about Apple’s Siri assistant.

While Google and Apple apologized in response and halted the practices, Microsoft, who was also caught in the uproar, merely decided to change its privacy policies.

In the interview, Borthwick said that we should have more data ownership and influence over the decisions that are being made in regard to our data.

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