'If you're not paying for something online, you are probably the product', says tech expert


Thursday, December 6, 2018

A tech expert has warned internet users that if they're not paying for something online they are "probably the product".

Scott McGready appeared on the Mike Graham show to talk about documents from Facebook exposed by MPs, which look at how to secretly gather user data, including looking at texts and calls.

"If you're not paying for something then you are probably the product. In this case you absolutely are," Mr McGready said.



"On the surface that looks fine but then you look into ok they're recording voice chats, recording this, recording that, it's a bit weird. It's only down in the terms and conditions that we agree to."

The tech expert called for companies to rethink how they present their terms and conditions to users, so they gave "informed consent" with regards to signing over their data.

"The terms and conditions are massive but they outline categorically what is going to happen and what could happen, but on the flip side it takes us about a year to scroll throught the entire list of we will do this. That's not good enough for the average consumer, we need to have a big easy to read colour code, almost like an energy efficiency label, saying how badly are we going to misuse your data."


'Turn off your Alexa'

 'Echo Dots' pictured at Amazon Headquarters. Image: Getty

Mr McGready added that products which connect to the internet, including teddy bears and Amazon Alexa's should also be used with caution.

"Around Christmas these Internet of Things toys seem to explode in popularity and my biggest fear is that we're putting them into kids houses because they want a cute teddy bear without realising that every interaction with that teddy bear is recorded, stored, monitored, analysed," he said.

"If you ask 'Can you turn off your Alexa if I come round to see you?', that usually raises an eyebrow. We need to change perceptions a little bit."