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Canadian Journal of Law and Technology

Abstract

Voice recognition technology is now included in modern devices as a matter of course, being used in anything from our cellular telephones, to our televisions, and even the toys of our children. While we may voluntarily interact with some of our devices using this technology, such as conversing with Siri on our iPhones, many of us remain unaware as to the dangerous implications of using voice recognition technology. Its ability to record some of our most personal conversations allows private companies to eavesdrop on us in an unprecedented manner and amass highly sensitive information about our lives that would have previously been impossible. What is further pressing about this situation is that all of these recordings of our oral communications are stored in the cloud by these entities for future use and consultation, and are sometimes even transmitted to third parties. This risks exposing what may be some of our most intimate moments. Imagine if a commercial were targeted to a person’s television based on a sensitive conversation they had in the privacy of their own home. Or, even more frightening, consider if a child predator were to communicate with a child through their Barbie doll and use this connection to discover their whereabouts. The levels of security and privacy available through this use of voice recognition technology are therefore questionable, and the ability of Canadian law to adequately protect us in both these arenas is even more so. I seek to examine the inherent dangers that voice recognition technology presents to its users and whether the law properly addresses each of these risks. I will begin my analysis by exploring the security and privacy infrastructures employed by some of the foremost companies offering this technology, in an effort to determine if they are sufficiently robust to protect our private information. I will then turn my analysis to an in-depth examination of Canadian privacy laws so as to ascertain whether or not they are extensive enough to safeguard us from the numerous threats posed by this technology, to both our citizens in general and our children in particular.

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