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Gizmodo: Don't Buy Anyone an Amazon Echo Speaker (gizmodo.com) 257

Adam Clark Estes, writing for Gizmodo: Three years ago, we said the Echo was "the most innovative device Amazon's made in years." That's still true. But you shouldn't buy one. You shouldn't buy one for your family. [...] Your family members do not need an Amazon Echo or a Google Home or an AppleHomePod or whatever that one smart speaker that uses Cortana is called. And you don't either. You only want one because every single gadget-slinger on the planet is marketing them to you as an all-new, life-changing device that could turn your kitchen into a futuristic voice-controlled paradise. You probably think that having an always-on microphone in your home is fine, and furthermore, tech companies only record and store snippets of your most intimate conversations. No big deal, you tell yourself. Actually, it is a big deal. The newfound privacy conundrum presented by installing a device that can literally listen to everything you're saying represents a chilling new development in the age of internet-connected things. By buying a smart speaker, you're effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you. And I don't mean to sound overly cynical about this, either. Amazon, Google, Apple, and others say that their devices aren't spying on unsuspecting families. The only problem is that these gadgets are both hackable and prone to bugs.

Gizmodo: Don't Buy Anyone an Amazon Echo Speaker

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  • Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:13AM (#55680223) Homepage Journal

    You already own one of these you carry everywhere — your cellphone. A microphone (and camera!) you take everywhere, and is connected everywhere, including in your home.

    The Echo and its brethren are not a sudden influx of a listening device that can be hacked. You swallowed that bait a long, long time ago.

    • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:17AM (#55680249)

      Presumably though cell phones have a power constraint, the battery. If it were constantly sending full audio and video back to the mothership battery life would nose-dive.

      Plugged in smart hubs though? Buying one is probably considered opting in to full time surveillance.

      1984 seems so quaint now. Relatedly, I'm pretty sure GIFs are the 21st century Newspeak.

      • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:26AM (#55680369)

        Look at your routers usage logs. Are they constantly sending full audio back to the mothership? No? Then stop spreading this paranoid bullshit and actually try contributing to society sometime.

      • Not really, if they were doing that then I don't think battery is an issue anymore. See Pixel 2 phones that are able to constantly monitor and recognise songs to an on-device hash list. I think we have to assume it's possible now.

        Having said that, given the size of Google and Amazon etc, I think there would be leaks, someone would let slip that bad stuff was being done. That this has not happened at all, is encouraging. There is trouble ahead though, for sure.

      • Presumably though cell phones have a power constraint, the battery...

        Well your phone also has a GPS so there's no reason to record everything, maybe just in certain areas or when it is in proximity to another targeted device. Heck, maybe all the evil party cares about is your location, and that incurs practically no overhead to upload.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The panopticon wasn't really the main problem in 1984 though. It was that the vast majority of that society unquestioningly accepted the government made truth over reality. Only 38% of our society does. [fivethirtyeight.com]
      • You know phones can store, analyze and transmit as battery and network connectivity allows, right? They dont have to store all the audio, just its datapoints.
      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        Presumably though cell phones have a power constraint, the battery. If it were constantly sending full audio and video back to the mothership battery life would nose-dive.

        Plugged in smart hubs though? Buying one is probably considered opting in to full time surveillance.

        1984 seems so quaint now. Relatedly, I'm pretty sure GIFs are the 21st century Newspeak.

        You're not paranoid enough -- "they" have always been collecting audio from cell phones, so battery life is just accepted as the best it can be.

        Which probably goes along way to explaining why my tiny razr flip phone lasted for a week on batter, but my smart phone barely makes it 18 hours. Now it all makes sense!

      • If it were constantly sending full audio and video back to the mothership battery life would nose-dive.

        Compressed audio, sent in bursts; you wouldn't notice shit.

      • If it were constantly sending full audio and video back to the mothership ...

        Nobody is saying cellphones are doing it "constantly". Monitoring a microphone requires very little power, and it could then only record when a human voice is detected. Lossy compression works well for voice, and can vastly reduce transmission size. The phone can also wait until it is on a charger to transmit.

        Also, a cellphone does not require malicious intent from the manufacturer. A malicious app can have full access to the microphone and camera. Amazon Echo doesn't work that way. It has third party

    • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:20AM (#55680283) Homepage

      Scope matters.

      If my cell phone was recording everything around me and transmitting it, my pocket would be on fire, my battery would be dead before lunch every day, and my bandwidth allowance would be toast by the end of the first week every month. At home, there's essentially infinite power, no bandwidth limitation, and I can hardly tell the difference between a small hockey puck that's idling & one that's active just by looking at it or touching it. Tolerances for cooling aren't nearly as tight as a phone.

      The limitations of a mobile platform provide a degree of safety, or at least verifiability. The laws of physics are on your side in this case.

      • Yes and no, while cellphones are not always on, they can still be hacked and made to listen via rogue apps. Its just with these newer devices, always on functionality is easier to get to once hacked!

      • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:39AM (#55680491) Homepage

        The Pixel 2 phones can now listen and recognise songs in the background with no noticeable battery effect. They also can recognise the "OK Google" wake phrase. They're not actively transmitting this, though. But if they wanted to be nefarious and record this, and only transmit certain sections of audio, perhaps based on "bad keyword" recognition, I really don't think you'd notice.

        • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Radish03 ( 248960 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:56AM (#55680649)

          Or the device could just record and store all the audio temporarily, then transmit only when the phone is charging when the phone gets hot already. Depends if you want to do real-time surveillance or not.

        • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

          Yes, but you'd have to actually enable "OK Google". Who does that besides my parents because they think it's "nifty"?

          While it's certainly true that any system with a mic, be it a home device or a smartphone, could be hacked; I'm definitely not going to intentionally enable such a device to listen to and record my conversations.

          • I have disabled the 'OK Google' functionality on my Pixel 2. I don't want my phone always listening to me. But it came with the little speaker pod that my kids loved playing with (although I make them turn it off when they're done). However, I quickly discovered that my phone kept responding to 'OK Google' being said by my kids nearby and prompting me to reenable the service so it could respond to my queries. So, even though I disabled the functionality, the mic is still always on and listening for me t

      • Re:Good grief (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:39AM (#55680493)

        If my cell phone was recording everything around me and transmitting it, my pocket would be on fire, my battery would be dead before lunch every day, and my bandwidth allowance would be toast by the end of the first week every month.

        Not really, at least for audio. I still have one of those little voice recorders that people used before smartphones were around. It can record a couple of days of audio in its 2005-era flash storage, with just the power from a pair of alkaline AAA batteries.

        A rogue app on your phone could probably do the same to some file you wouldn't even notice, and upload it whenever you connect to WiFi without you noticing that either.

        At any rate, there seem to be no power issues with phones running the microphone 24x7 and constantly processing the data to look for "OK Google". That would probably be at least as power-intensive as just making a recording.

      • Scope matters.

        If my cell phone was recording everything around me and transmitting it, my pocket would be on fire, my battery would be dead before lunch every day, and my bandwidth allowance would be toast by the end of the first week every month. At home, there's essentially infinite power, no bandwidth limitation, and I can hardly tell the difference between a small hockey puck that's idling & one that's active just by looking at it or touching it. Tolerances for cooling aren't nearly as tight as a phone.

        The limitations of a mobile platform provide a degree of safety, or at least verifiability. The laws of physics are on your side in this case.

        You have it backwards, or at least you are only looking at one side of the equation. An Echo stays in one place, and must rely on your router to dial out, which means you have full control over its connectivity and you have the ability to inspect bandwidth usage. Your phone has a separate and completely opaque connection to whatever mothership you're afraid of.

        Your phone will also not "be on fire" if it is transmitting audio, which is the only kind of data the Echo has access to. Nor does it need to record

      • If my cell phone was recording everything around me and transmitting it, my pocket would be on fire

        You overestimate how much effort it takes to record and listen. Phones have listened for key words in realtime and constantly for a good 5+ generations. Modern phones not only listen in realtime for keywords but for everything around you, e.g. the latest Pixel which has the equivalent of always on Shazam sitting on your lock screen displaying what song is on around you at all times.

      • So you don't need a home pod or echo, just use an old cell phone that is plugged into a charger.
    • "By buying a smart speaker, you're effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you. " Not just the cellphone, but the web browser on your PC. Good grief. I would ignore privacy advocates too if I were a business, they run off screaming over non-issues so no one listens to them. I remember years ago when Facebook rolled out a feature to query on the history between you and a specific friend. OMG how privacy people caterwauled and made fools of themselves. It was all information that was alre
      • There is a reason my computer has no microphone unless I have my headset plugged in (and it's almost never plugged in), and when my company gave everyone an echo dot for christmas last year I immediately used it as a regift to my ex, such that the kids were able to give their mom a "cool" present that cost me nothing.

        As others have noted, a compromised cell phone is much more obvious by means of battery life and thermals. Add to that the latest android allowing granular permissions (and having revoked anyt

        • Me too! I wonder though, if it makes any difference in the long run. There are still information leaks which they can collect. Over time the profile accumulates plenty of information. It might take longer but in the end they still get it.
        • About a month ago a story was published that showed the spin of a hard drive could be monitored by the read head using rogue software that effectively turned it into a microphone. Hate to tell you, but not all microphones are ones you realize are microphones.

    • I wish I could mod you above 5.

    • your cellphone.

      If anyone doubts this, and uses Android, go see your voice and audio activity [google.com]. It's pretty eye-opening when you hear your own voice from several years ago. It includes times that you clearly meant to trigger "OK Google" and times that it mistakenly picked up random conversations.

      On the other hand, if Google is honest about this being the data that they collect, then bravo for being so open and transparent. They also offer the ability to delete. Do Amazon or Apple provide such access to the audio data they h

    • Perhaps I am too old, but I just don't get the point of these devices. Security and privacy aside, what do they do that my cell phone cannot? All this cool automation stuff they show on TV requires Hundreds of dollars of equipment, that is replacing, perfectly good existing equipment with a little extra benefit, being worth the price. But to add to the real kicker, nearly all these extra devices can just as easily bet setup on your cell phone. Where there is a speaker where you can asks the same command

      • by sobachatina ( 635055 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @12:14PM (#55680823)

        I just got a google home when they went on sale a couple weeks ago.

        I already had a chromecast and audio chromecast.

        My kids, who don't have phones, now say "Hey Google, play Christmas music on the family room speaker" And it happens. "Goodmorning" and it tells me the weather and my commute time while I eat breakfast. "Add eggs to my shopping list" as I'm walking through the kitchen thinking about it. "Turn off the Christmas trees" as I walk upstairs to bed.

        All of these tasks could be done with my phone. Most of them are much faster and convenient to just say. There are some things I still use my phone for- like picking specific radio stations or tv episodes to cast. It's been a fantastically useful tool.

        I suppose the trade off is that I now have to refrain from planning my murders or insurrections in my kitchen.

        • However how much money did you need to spend on the device to hook up your Christmas tree?
          You add eggs to your shopping list, fine, but how will it remind you want you are out.

        • ""Hey Google, play Christmas music on the family room speaker""

          Go to shoutcast.com type in christmas, select any number of options. Bookmark your favourite .pls file for later.

          " "Goodmorning" and it tells me the weather and my commute time while I eat breakfast."

          I look outside for weather, and i take a train with a schedule, so its always the same commute time.

          " "Add eggs to my shopping list" as I'm walking through the kitchen thinking about it."

          a note pad of paper on top of the fridge has worked for me for

        • Thing is, the trade off doesn't even have to be there. Things can be 'smart' without using the cloud. We just have to demand they work this way.

          For example, Nest thermostats didn't work during an internet blackout, leaving people in Canada freezing. Many 'smart' things use the cloud because their designers followed the trend or wanted access to behavioral data.. not because it's a good design.

          Nest source:
          http://www.cbc.ca/news/technol... [www.cbc.ca]
    • The Echo and its brethren are not a sudden influx of a listening device that can be hacked.

      Yes they are. This remains true whether or not we all already have smartphones.

    • by IMightB ( 533307 )

      Also, just curious as to the quality of the audio whil my ass is sitting on it , or it's in my pants or jacket or any of the other common places a cell phone may find itself. I am totally on board with hating the fact that a cell phone is a 24x7 spyware device. What I'm not on board with is having a 24x7 spyware device that I have an option not to buy.

      I will never purchase an echo, home or anything else that I cannot verify it doesn't phone home.

      I recently started buying ZWave switches and Insteon sw

    • There's definitely some differences here; there's no regulation on IoT, there is on cell phones and the like, for starters. Plus, the notion of security seems to at least be _present_ on cell phones, a la secure enclaves, etc. For Amazon Echo, et al, there's nothing. It's just a crap linux kernel on some MICROCHIP bought processor designed to listen for _one thing_, and then hook you into monitoring services. At least with a phone you have to open an app before companies generally get that ability, explicit
    • Re:Good grief (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @12:17PM (#55680853) Journal

      You already own one of these you carry everywhere — your cellphone.

      Not all of us. Some of us see so-called 'smartphones' as a 'dumb' choice because of security and privacy issues, as well as being gouged for dataplans by greedy wireless companies. The $50 plastic LG clamshell phone I do have is turned off at least 90% of the time, and since I'm an electronics person, the GPS is even disabled in hardware (antenna grounded). Furthermore I regularly recommend to people that they think carefully whether they really need a smartphone or not, and if not, get rid of it and get a basic cheap phone that's good at being a telephone and leave it at that.

      Furthermore I have a dim view to say the least of people like you who tell others to 'give up and give in' to having their privacy and their lives invaded by shitty corporations and shitty governments who want to stick their little brown noses in people's private business. You can be a coward who allows all this to be done to you all you want, and I'll look down my nose at you and everyone like you, but do NOT go around telling people to be like you. Privacy is still a Thing, it's worth protecting and fighting for, and it's criminal so far as I'm concerned to tell people otherwise.

    • by Rhipf ( 525263 )

      That assumes that you actually have a cell phone. :-)

    • You already own one of these you carry everywhere â" your cellphone. A microphone (and camera!) you take everywhere, and is connected everywhere, including in your home.

      In other words if there was already one vehicle rampaging thru my neighborhood spraying my home with bullets...

      A second vehicle doing the same thing wouldn't be a big deal...right? After all there are some rooms with only a few bullet holes and I can certainly afford to loose more blood.

  • As you ALREADY have these mic's on your TV, Cell Phone, WebCam, Etc... A white Noise Generator at frequencies only a Mic can hear, are the ONLY option for true privacy in your personal space anymore. Besides totally withdrawing from electronic/digital society. Good thing they make simple circuits for this from one end of the internet to the other :-P
  • Definitely 'nope'. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:22AM (#55680319)

    I want something open source, that runs locally on my home network. If it requires connectivity to a server on the Internet, I don't want it.

    There's no legitimate reason such a device can't be made except so that the tech companies can access whatever data they want - which yes, is PROBABLY just for product improvement (which will include better, creepier targeted advertising), but is also a massive invasion of privacy with all sorts of potential to be used by criminals and the government doing things you'd consider criminal.

    • I've been reading into this lately -- I do want an open source solution to this. I think the basic premise is quite useful.

      Take a look at mycroft.ai [mycroft.ai]. I haven't dug into it too deeply, and I can say that the speech-to-text runs through public cloud today due to a lack of current open alternatives - but the architecture is modular, open, and comes with (alpha/beta) hardware options if you don't want to go the route of mobile OS or raspberry pi.

      Can't vouch for them, but I would probably be dumping a lot more

    • I want something open source, that runs locally on my home network. If it requires connectivity to a server on the Internet, I don't want it.

      There's no legitimate reason such a device can't be made except so that the tech companies can access whatever data they want - which yes, is PROBABLY just for product improvement (which will include better, creepier targeted advertising), but is also a massive invasion of privacy with all sorts of potential to be used by criminals and the government doing things you'd consider criminal.

      So I take it you don't use a cell phone?

    • That makes no sense. The entire point of these devices is to get information FROM the Internet. As an added bonus they gather information about you for marketing purposes. What would be the point of having a device that doesn't connect to the Internet? If you want local speech recognition, any laptop can do that.
      • >That makes no sense. The entire point of these devices is to get information FROM the Internet.

        It can act as an input to my computer, rather than a direct connection to a service. It can have its own local connections for home automation or monitoring.

        • Then just install some speech recognition software on your computer. It probably already has a microphone on it. No Internet connection required. That isn't what the Echo is for.
  • Maybe you shouldn’t buy an Echo. They're definitely not as useful as marketing hype suggests.

    But why do we need to be trolled by cynical Gizmodo jerks? Even the lamest marketing hype is a lot more believable than some story about my Echo being hacked and used to listen in on me.

  • Who wants to bet within the next week, there will be an article praising these things.
  • After the "Special Rebate" it is FREE!

  • Nothing changed in the last three years. The Echo now does more, but has the same privacy concerns now as it did then. No, hacking demonstration on the Echo is nowhere near as scary as the malware floating around on phones, and those are far, far more privy to information than the Echo is. I 100% agree that people should carefully consider whether the privacy concerns of an Echo are an acceptable tradeoff for them.

    This reminds me of when a teenager "discovers" things his parents loved/hated thirty years pr
  • How is that news?

    By buying a smart speaker, you're effectively paying money to let a huge tech company surveil you.

    Most of us have been saying that from the beginning!

  • Even if you remove the privacy argument, it's an awful gift. You're imposing your choice in technology on someone else. It's akin to an Android user getting an iPhone dock as a gift... it's going right in the trash.

    I'd put it up on the list of bad gifts along with lottery tickets.
  • Just install an On/Off switch in the microphone line to ensure it's not listening when you don't want it to.
  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:46AM (#55680545)
    To the person making the comment about the cell phone burning a hole in your pocket in your pocket if it was always recording, not at ALL true. Oh, and bandwidth allowance may not be an issue either if there was an understanding between, say, google/apple and ISPs, plus government monitors. There is a reason why many new phones are designed in such away it is surgery to remove the battery which is the only sure way to be sure it isn't monitoring. There was a reason Snowden had cell phones put into a microwave when the reporters were meeting him: he knew they can always be listening/watching, regardless of settings by the user. The limitations people HOPE there are on a cell phone in regards to limitations are an illusion. Don't believe me? Try using apps like WeChat for awhile. your battery would not be dead either (certainly not on the new phones with the non-removable battery). I know because I've had conversations using apps that have gone one for hours which barely put a dint in the charge and my phone did not require a recharge for several days after. But I digress.

    Any device that can listen and has access to the Internet is probably listening. There is a project that claims to plug this hole called Purism ( https://puri.sm/products/ [puri.sm] ) with a hardware shutoff switch for the "holes" that are on by default on. And don't forget, Google was recently caught with their hand in the cookie jar, taking user location data even if you turn it "off" on your phone. The Cell phone, like these vocal response devices, are in essence trojan horses. No one should be having devices that listen 24/7 in their home. If we don't fight to protect our privacy, government and private business will assume permissions has been given. It used to be one had to break into your home, plant bugs, and monitor close by to do the kind of intrusive monitoring that can be done just by putting out devices people think are "cool" or convenient. It's like Mark Twain's whitewashing chapter in Tom Sawyer: We pay to let people into our home and take our data.
  • .. you and your family do *not* need a 'smart' television. No you don't. If you can't buy a simple one anymore, make sure it is not connected to any internet/wifi point, as the 'services' turn you from a consumer into a product. As you probably already are on Facebook, Twitter etc.

    • To Gizmodo as well as yourself: your concerns are valid and noted. But I'll be the damn judge of what I or my family needs, thank you.
  • Privacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Titanek ( 4829413 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:48AM (#55680577)
    I make an analogy to privacy by asking people if they close their curtains/blinders at night, or if they let the passersby look inside. Usually gets the discussion going.
  • by Guyle ( 79593 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:49AM (#55680593) Homepage

    Seriously, has anyone bothered monitoring packets from an Echo or Google Home using their router or Wireshark? If these devices ARE uploading voice data when you're not actually using it then it's not difficult to figure out. I monitored mine at home for a month straight, and the only spikes in OUTBOUND traffic coincided with the precise times I asked Alexa for something. Beyond few bits here and there, which are too small to hold any meaningful audio of understandable quality, I failed to detect any secret surveillance.

    With all of the engineers out there (who are smarter than me, for sure) there has to be folks who've tried what I have on a bigger scale with better tools, and if someone had found evidence of illegal surveillance, they would have come forward by now. It's what everyone wants, right? To PROVE these things are evil?

    If you say audio uploads aren't detectable then give me a plausible method for ex-filtration of the data.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      When the media decides to tell a story, facts that contradict that story don't matter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you say audio uploads aren't detectable then give me a plausible method for ex-filtration of the data.

      1. Record audio with compression. (It is a LOT smaller than you all apparently think)
      2. Transmit it when owner asks Alexa for something.
      3. Profit.

    • by krelvin ( 771644 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @12:17PM (#55680849)

      Seriously, has anyone bothered monitoring packets from an Echo or Google Home using their router or Wireshark? If these devices ARE uploading voice data when you're not actually using it then it's not difficult to figure out. I monitored mine at home for a month straight, and the only spikes in OUTBOUND traffic coincided with the precise times I asked Alexa for something.

      As a person with mobility issues, I have 3 Echo Dots and now 2 Google Home Mini's. They control more than 12 switches and a number of other sensors throughout the house making my life much easier.

      I too monitored the traffic from the echo dot when I first got it and like the @Guyle above, came to the same conclusion.

      My cell phone captures much more information than these devices do.

    • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @12:17PM (#55680857)
      I choose to sleep under a hanging sword suspended by a single strand of horse hair. I closely monitored this sword, and have no detected any signs of it falling down and killing me in my sleep.

      If you say this sword is going to fall and kill me in my sleep, give me a plausible method for how it would work.
    • Also worth noting that Google lets you see and delete all audio they've recorded [google.com] from your device. They like to keep your voice history around for more accurate voice recognition, but it's not essential. You can delete it all if you're paranoid, or just the snippet of your uncle making an obscene and embarrassing voice search.

      That said, I'm still waiting for voice recognition to be packaged into a self-contained device. It's been almost 10 years since it began showing up in its server-assisted form (2
    • Maybe these devices have integral gunshot detectors inside. You wouldn't know unless you shot your spouse. Since it doesn't really happen very often, you wouldn't see a spike of activity during normal monitoring. If you fired several shots for testing purposes, then your neighbors might just squeal on you first.
      • Considering the number of Americans that shoot while hunting or at a pistol range, that would generate a lot of false positives.
    • Seriously, has anyone bothered monitoring packets from an Echo or Google Home using their router or Wireshark? If these devices ARE uploading voice data when you're not actually using it then it's not difficult to figure out.

      As brought up above in re cell phones, they could store all of the audio for days before uploading it all in a single "Ok Google" request. There's really no way to know for certain just by monitoring when hits the servers. Though if you're using wireshark you should be able to tell how big the requests are. Do they seem to be relatively normal or is it sometimes sending large amounts of data?

    • the only spikes in OUTBOUND traffic coincided with the precise times I asked Alexa for something.

      Personally, that's enough to not use them. I'm not about to ask Alexa, or Siri, or Google, for anything. I don't need more spying in my life.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      And if they did upload all that data, who would *analyze* it? Data collection is pointless in itself, it's the analytical products that you want. The cost of *manually* going through that data would astronomical for the value obtained. They'd have to have centralized computers comb through that uploaded data to find whatever it is they were looking for.

      Now if the thing sitting in your kitchen or TV room actually had a computer inside it that could listen to and classify speech, you'd have a genuine caus

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:50AM (#55680611)
    Wouldn't it be nice if we could trust these companies to only use your voice for the purpose you intend as a consumer?
    • Some laws to that effect woulld be even nicer. I want to be able to trust those companies, and I want a really big stick to whoop them with if they violate that trust.
      • I want to be able to trust those companies

        I want a lifetime supply of free ice cream and chocolate, too, but that's about as likely as one of those companies suddenly deciding to be trustworthy.

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:51AM (#55680619)

    First, I don't need these things either. But "installing a device that can literally listen to everything you're saying" is something you do ANYWAY. Every device that has a microphone and an Internet connection and that runs software that you didn't write can potentially do exactly the same.

    If you don't believe Amazon, Apple or Google that they don't surveil you with these gadgets, why should you believe them when they say that they aren't listening to everything you say through your smartphone or your laptop? Why?

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday December 05, 2017 @11:55AM (#55680645)

    You might as well give up on trying to convince the masses that they should suddenly start giving a shit about privacy or security. Based on the products they worship, they obviously no longer care.

    System got hacked? Oh well, buy a new one. Identity theft? That only happens to someone else.

    The masses gladly give up their digital soul in exchange for a free service. Pathetic, but so true there's no way anyone can deny it.

  • Obligatory SMBC comic [smbc-comics.com]. (Yes it is SFW)

  • I guess Gizmodo was paid by Google or Apple as another article on this page suggests.

  • Glad to see that there are still people out there who have their heads screwed on straight and can see the truth.
  • ... screaming at my teammates in battlefield, singing badly, and passing gas.

    If they ask nice, I'll send them a dick pic too.

  • Was involved in an alleged murder of a person here in Arkansas awhile back. Apparently, it did not contain nor record anything incriminating as the accused murder was acquitted. Here is one of the articles: https://www.npr.org/sections/a... [npr.org]
    • Was involved in an alleged murder of a person here in Arkansas awhile back. Apparently, it did not contain nor record anything incriminating as the accused murder was acquitted. Here is one of the articles: https://www.npr.org/sections/a... [npr.org]

      *accused murderer* was acquitted...

      • Was involved in an alleged murder of a person here in Arkansas awhile back. Apparently, it did not contain nor record anything incriminating as the accused murder was acquitted. Here is one of the articles: https://www.npr.org/sections/a... [npr.org]

        *accused murderer* was acquitted...

        CORRECTION: The case was dismissed (not acquitted by jury) basically due to lack of evidence. The prosecutor stated via another TV station in our area that the case can be re-opened if the prosecutor finds more evidence. http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/30/... [cnn.com]

  • Although you literally couldn't pay enough money to have one of those things in my house, if I were to get one as a gift, it would be OK. It's probably full of parts that I could use for other things.

    • Or just return it for credit and buy something else. Gift receipt.

      Bonus points if you can do subtle damage to it before returning, so it still appears to turn on, but will cost the seller (i.e. Amazon or Google and their affiliates) money.

  • or whatever that one smart speaker that uses Cortana is called

    MeeToo(tm)

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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