Dec 112017
 
 December 11, 2017  Business, Surveillance

Another point of view, lest my readers think I only present one side of issues.

Brad Stone writes:

I’ve gone all-in on Amazon’s line of Alexa-powered speakers, installing them throughout my home and buying them for family members. We use them to play music and news, tell jokes and get the weather. And I get to talk to a computer like I’m Captain Picard in Star Trek.

But stories like this one, in Gizmodo last week, suggest that the popular and inexpensive line of voice-activated speakers pose a threat to user privacy. The writer argues that devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home contain microphones that are “always on” and sending volumes of data back to their parent companies. These speakers might also make it possible for hackers and law enforcement authorities to drop a secret wiretap into your living room, the article says.

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees, inveighing against  the Echo and other connected speakers. Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow writes that they “normalize surveillance.” Even InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones got into the act last week, interrogating an Echo on his show with hilarious earnestness. “Alexa, do you work for the CIA?… Alexa, you are lying to me!… Alexa, who is Jeff Bezos?”

Now, I don’t mean to defend these companies as much as to rationalize my own enthusiasm for these devices. But all these concerns seem a bit overheated.

Read more on Bloomberg.

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