Butt-dialing just got taken to the next level.
No sooner had the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gone into effect, than an Amazon Echo device appeared to run roughshod all over the new law. Luckily, this breach happened in Portland, Oregon but the device is sold in 36 countries, including most of those in the EU and in Latin America. You may have already heard about how a family’s conversation was recorded by their “intelligent personal assistant device” and the recording emailed to a person in another town and you’re probably wondering what on Earth kind of glitch could have caused in this.
Amazon has a perfectly “reasonable” explanation. They say that the Echo program, which responds to the name, “Alexa” became activated during their loud conversation by an utterance which sounded reasonably close to “Alexa”, which was followed by another utterance that sounded reasonably close to “send message”. The robot is alleged to have duly asked her overlords, who were too deeply embroiled in conversation to hear her, “To whom?” At this point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in her masters’ customer contact list.
Ever eager to please her flesh-and-blood bosses, Alexa then requested a confirmation from her oblivious superiors, “[contact name], right?” and proceeded to interpret the background noise as “right.”
Why people are installing additional surveillance devices in their homes, as if their cellphones, computers and TVs aren’t enough is beyond me. The device continuously listens to all speech and is ever at the ready to place orders on Amazon, give news reports, play music, etc., with all of the code running from Amazon’s cloud servers, where the CIA recently paid $600 million to store their data.
James Corbett calls this the normalization of the police/surveillance state unimaginable even to George Orwell. “No one would’ve thought we would be willingly paying for it,” he says, urging viewers to fight the normalization of this tech.
Having seen these things in several family member homes last Christmas, I think it’s too late. The Internet of Things cometh.