They’re Listening In and They Know It’s You
The U.S. government and big corporations have taken to capturing and storing voiceprints. How many, do you think?
A couple million, maybe?
These power hungry bureaucrats have recorded and logged 65 million voiceprints.
Most people have the mistaken idea that voice recognition technology is limited to the arena of government intelligence. That’s not the case. The use of voice identification is already widespread. The technology is common and available. Government and big businesses are making use of it in a wide number of ways.
Why Your Voice?
Your voice is unique. That fact makes your voiceprint an ideal security tool. As long as you know it’s being collected and how it’s being used.
That’s the problem.
Your voiceprint may have already been captured and stored in a government database. Without your permission or your knowledge. Your bank may already be using it without you knowing.
In banking, the voiceprint can play a useful role in preventing fraud. Imagine someone trying to gain access to your account over the phone. The bank compares their voiceprint to the one they have on file for you. They see the discrepancies and shut down the transaction before any harm is done.
That’s not so bad.
The government is shifting to using voice data for a number of things. Like issuing pension checks, tracking criminals on probation, collecting taxes, and for passwords.
So imagine this. You pull up to a checkpoint to cross over into Canada. The border officer asks you to speak into a device. He comes back a few moments later telling you that you can’t leave the country. Why? The IRS has a record of back taxes on you. This scenario isn’t happening yet, but the way things are going, it’s not farfetched. Not at all.
Or how about this? The NSA has already proven its willingness to collect data on all US citizens. They do it on a massive scale. How long before they have a dragnet program in place harvesting the human voice? How long before they use that program to cross-reference recorded calls so they know exactly who is saying what and who they are saying it to?
Privacy advocates note another threat from moving to voiceprints without more public discussion. Right now a whistleblower bringing government corruption to light already has a hard time maintaining anonymity. It will be even harder when voiceprints become fully mainstream.
That’s the real threat of capturing voiceprints without the knowledge or permission of the user. Eventually government agencies will put them to use to enhance their surveillance programs. Or to intimidate critics from speaking out. At this point, is there really any doubt that’s possible … even likely?
Protect Yourself From This Growing Privacy Violation
Voiceprint identification is difficult to get around. But you can protect yourself.
First, whenever you have a conversation over the phone, assume it’s being listened to and recorded. And assume that whoever is listening has the means to identify you, even if you are using a phone that isn’t tied to your name in any way.
Choose your words accordingly.
If anonymity is what you want, you may be better off turning to more old-fashioned means of communication. A face-to-face meeting somewhere outdoors is one option.
Communicating through the mail using private mailbox addresses is another.
You can also use a cell phone that is not tied to your name. But send encrypted text messages rather than using the voice features.
A Chance for Profit
A final note on voiceprints.
Voiceprint technology has the potential to be abused. But it also has some good uses in the private sector. The private sector, especially the banking industry, recognizes that and is rapidly moving toward voiceprints as a standard security feature.
Companies producing voiceprint technology are expected to as much as double their revenues in the course of the next year. That means you may find some good investments options in this area. Part of being ready-for-anything is finding opportunities within the chaos the government is creating.