Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Alexa and Smart-home are spying on you.

From the Washington Post, an article outlining just how much Amazon's Alexa is recording you.

Many smart-speaker owners don't realize it, but Amazon keeps a copy of everything Alexa records after it hears its name. Apple's Siri, and until recently Google's Assistant, by default also keep recordings to help train their artificial intelligences.

So come with me on an unwelcome walk down memory lane. I listened to four years of my Alexa archive and found thousands of fragments of my life: spaghetti-timer requests, joking houseguests and random snippets of "Downton Abbey." There were even sensitive conversations that somehow triggered Alexa's "wake word" to start recording, including my family discussing medication and a friend conducting a business deal.

Yep. And that's why I don't have one. That's why all the voice activation crap is disabled on my phone too. Because voice command is an always-on internet appliance, which can and does record random conversations without use of the code-word "Alexa" or "Siri" or whatever you have.

And there is no OFF switch. "OFF!" is a software setting, not a hardware switch that stops the flow of electricity. That means that "OFF!" is a suggestion, not an enforceable condition.

But wait, there's more:

Alexa's voice archive made headlines most recently when Bloomberg discovered Amazon employees listen to recordings to train its artificial intelligence. Amazon acknowledged some of those employees also have access to location information for the devices that made the recordings. [Emphasis mine]

Yes! Location information is also stored. So they know what you said, when and where you said it, and using location data from other companies, they know who else was there to hear it.

Wait. Location data from other companies? Isn't that illegal? Why yes, it IS illegal, and they sell it anyway. Yes friends, the top four phone companies in America are selling your location data illegally. Have been for years.

And even more:

Every kind of appliance now is becoming a data-collection device. My Chamberlain MyQ garage opener lets the company keep - again, indefinitely - a record of every time my door opens or closes. My Sonos speakers, by default, track what albums, playlists or stations I've listened to, and when I press play, pause, skip or pump up the volume. At least they only hold on to my sonic history for six months.

And now the craziest part: After quizzing these companies about data practices, I learned most are sharing what's happening in my home with Amazon, too. Our data is the price of entry for devices that want to integrate with Alexa. Amazon's not only eavesdropping - it's tracking everything happening in your home.

Amazon acknowledges it collects data about third-party devices even when you don't use Alexa to operate them. It says Alexa needs to know the "state" of your devices "to enable a great smart home experience." But keeping a record of this data is more useful to them than to us.

Yep. The NEST thermostat, the network-connected lights, the power company's smart meter on your electrical service, your network connected smart TV, your Spotify account, your smart-speakers, smart doorbell... all this shit sends its data back home to the company, and Amazon keeps it FOREVER.

So yeah. The Alexa-connected sensor web in your house knows you got up to take a leak at 2AM last Tuesday, and with enough connecting of databases from credit cards and stores etc. they may know it was because you had three beers after dinner on Tuesday.

Now, I want y'all to consider that this level of surveillance and recording is far beyond what people in jails experience. Even assuming that everyone involved is acting properly and with the best intentions, its alarming.

But we also know that Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, all these companies lean HARD Left politically. Does anyone really think they don't collect dirt on people they don't like?

Are we going to sit here and pretend these guys would shrink from mining location data and recordings of Alex Jones, for example? Or Donald Trump?


Orvan Taurus said...

"Alexa, they shoot spies, don't they?"
"Siri, they shoot spies, don't they?"
"Ok Google, they shoot spies, don't they"
"I know you're listening. They shoot spies, don't they?"

Yeah, i figure I'm a list somewhere.

The Phantom said...

Orvan, you're on ALL the lists. ~:D