A report in The Guardian in August that lawyers who had had business before the Supreme Court gave money to an aide to Justice Clarence Thomas for a Christmas party was surprising. Just as surprising was the way the publication learned about it: from the aide’s public Venmo records. Brian X. Chen, the consumer technology writer for The Times, wrote that even he was surprised that such records of money transfers could be public.
A few years ago it became known that Alexa, Amazon’s voice device, recorded and sent private conversations to third parties, that Amazon staff members listened to recordings and kept an extensive archive of recordings by default.
Both companies responded to these startling violations of privacy by suggesting that the burden to keep this information from going public was on users, who could, they said, opt out of devices’ default settings to ensure privacy. This is often the standard industry response.
Even if you’re aware of these problems, how easy is it to protect your privacy? Chen helpfully shared instructions for opting out of Venmo’s public disclosures.
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