It’s time to break out your “Alexa, I Told You So” banners – because a Portland, Oregon, couple received a phone call from one of the husband’s employees earlier this month, telling them she had just received a recording of them talking privately in their home.
“Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” the staffer told the couple, who did not wish to be fully identified, “you’re being hacked.”
At first the couple thought it might be a hoax call. However, the employee – over a hundred miles away in Seattle – confirmed the leak by revealing the pair had just been talking about their hardwood floors.
The recording had been sent from the couple’s Alexa-powered Amazon Echo to the employee’s phone, who is in the husband’s contacts list, and she forwarded the audio to the wife, Danielle, who was amazed to hear herself talking about their floors. Suffice to say, this episode was unexpected. The couple had not instructed Alexa to spill a copy of their conversation to someone else.
“I felt invaded,” Danielle told KIRO-TV. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.'”
The couple then went around their home unplugging all their Amazon Alexa gadgets – they had them all over the place to manage various smart home devices, including a thermostat and security system – and then called the web giant to complain about the snooping tech.
According to Danielle, Amazon confirmed that it was the voice-activated digital assistant that had recorded and sent the file to a virtual stranger, and apologized profusely, but gave no explanation for how it may have happened.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht
I have a Google Home Mini sitting on my coffee table, still in its shrink-wrap (I got it for free with something else)… But there’s no way I trust the device as far as I can spit.
Instead, I went with MyCroft Mark II – the Open Source “assistant” and with a little luck, it’ll arrive just in time for Christmas (I backed it on Kickstarter – but it’s on Indiegogo as I type this).
If you check it (MyCroft) out, make sure you look at the Mark II (a vertical device that resembles a speaker with a screen) – the Mark II is aimed at consumers, whilst the original version (a horizontal, rectangle box) is aimed at developers… Well, unless you’re a tinkerer or a developer of course.
Just use open source existing tools (Snips) that works really great, completely out of cloud and with full privacy and stop using all these GAFA tools that spy on everything !
Using it since a little while with my Home assistant system and it’s really nice !
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