MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Alexa’

Alexa Refuses To Play Joe Rogan’s Podcast

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2022

Watch as this Joe Rogan fan fruitlessly tries to get Alexa to play the Joe Rogan Experience.

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The Police Are Requesting Data from People’s Smart Speakers at an Alarming Rate –

Posted by M. C. on October 5, 2020

Whitfield says police are becoming more savvy about the information in the smart speakers’ activity logs. He recalls a case where police found drugs in a household with multiple residents. Officers identified a suspect after seizing data from a smart speaker. Its log not only listed recent queries related to drugs but identified who spoke them. Google and Amazon speakers let users create profiles so the devices recognize their individual voices. This information helped police identify the suspect.

https://www.theorganicprepper.com/police-smart-speaker-data/

by Robert Wheeler

Remember all those conspiracy theorists and Luddites who told you they didn’t want Echo or Alexa devices in their home because those gadgets were spying on them? Well, they were right. That’s not even up for debate. 

If you were one of those friends who mocked them and called them crazy, you were wrong. Just admit it.

If you are bewildered by what you just read, please, read on.

Nearly ten years ago, writers like Brandon Turbeville and others were warning that “smart technology” and the “internet of things” were being developed for surveillance and manipulation purposes. (Despite the companies’ claims of greater convenience.) We’ve been in a virtual dragnet for years.

Those devices and technologies are ubiquitous and are being used to soak up data, private and personal conversations, interactions, and even movement. All of this openly discussed in mainstream outlets. Lately, this website has reported on the Nest, your phone’s location tracker, and other “smart” technology. We’ve even talked about how we all have “surveillance scores.

Take a look at WIRED’s article by Sidney Fussell, “Meet the Star Witness: Your Smart Speaker.” In this article, Fussell details a murder case in which an Amazon Echo device was presented as evidence.

He writes, 

In July 2019, police rushed to the home of 32-year-old Silvia Galva. Galva’s friend, also in the home, called 911, claiming she overheard a violent argument between Galva and her boyfriend, 43-year-old Adam Crespo. The two lived together in Hallandale Beach, Florida, about 20 miles from Miami.

When officers arrived, Galva was dead, impaled through her chest by the 12-inch blade at the sharp end of a bedpost. Police believe Crespo tried to drag Galva from their bed. She held onto the bedpost to resist, but the sharp end snapped, somehow killing her. Police charged Crespo with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $65,000 bail, awaiting trial. In the months since the arrest, Crespo’s lawyer has presented a surprising piece of evidence in his defense: recordings from a pair of Amazon Echo speakers.

“I had a lot of interviews where people said, ‘Oh, are you aware that this could be the first time Alexa recordings are going to be used to convict somebody of murder?’” says Christopher O’Toole, Crespo’s lawyer. “And I actually thought of it the opposite way, that this could be the first time an Amazon Alexa recording is used to exonerate somebody and show that they’re innocent.”

When police and prosecutors collect smart home or speaker data, it’s typically used as evidence against suspects. The Hallandale Beach Police Department filed a subpoena for Crespo’s speakers, as they may have picked up audio of the argument Galva’s friend overheard.

The incident shows the growing role of smart home devices and wearables in police investigations.

In 2016, police in Bentonville, Arkansas, requested Amazon Echo data in connection with a man’s death, believed to be the first such request. Amazon initially tried to block the request, but later handed over the data. A murder charge against the defendant was later dropped, but the speaker, smart home, and wearable data has figured into multiple cases since then.

Requests for smart and wearable data has increased rapidly.

Fussell continues,

Earlier this month, Amazon said it had received more than 3,000 requests from police for user data in the first half of this year, and complied almost 2,000 times. That was a 72 percent increase in requests from the same period in 2016, when Amazon first disclosed the data, and a 24 percent jump in the past year alone.

Amazon doesn’t provide granular data on what police are seeking, but Douglas Orr, head of the criminal justice department at the University of North Georgia, says police now look for smart home data as routinely as data from smartphones. Data on a smartphone often points officers towards other devices, which they then probe as the investigation continues.

By amending a search warrant, police can “keep going to keep collecting data,” Orr says. “That usually leads to an Echo or at least some other device.”

As Orr explains, officers are getting more savvy about smart home devices, creating templates that simplify requesting data. Police departments often share these templates, he says, tailoring requests for the specifics of the case they’re investigating.

Google’s Nest unit reported increasing police demands for data from its smart speakers through 2018. Google then stopped reporting Nest data separately, including such requests in its broader corporate transparency report, which shows increased requests for Google user data.

In their terms of service, most major apps and websites include a clause warning users that companies may hand over their data if requested by the government. Law enforcement agencies file subpoenas or search warrants for data, detailing to judges what evidence they expect to find on the devices and how it may serve the investigation. Amazon and Google both notify users of a request for data unless the order itself forbids it. Any number of entities can request user data, but the companies say they prioritize requests based on urgency.

“Things like Homeland Security, they’re going to take high priority,” explains Lee Whitfield, a forensic analyst. “Other law enforcement requests will come in under that. And then things like divorce cases or civil cases, they have a lower ranking.”

In an emailed statement, an Amazon spokesperson said the company “objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands” from law enforcement and referred WIRED to its policy on government requests. A Google spokesperson also referred WIRED to its updated policy on requests.

Forensic experts tell WIRED that information from the devices is valued because it can offer a timeline of a person’s activities, their location, if they’re alone, and can verify statements made during questioning.

. . . . .

Orr has studied the types of data police can pull from smart speakers like the Amazon Echo. “Voice clips are only the beginning,” he says. Speakers keep time-stamped logs of user activity. Police can examine these logs to get a sense of what someone was doing around the time of an alleged crime.

Fussell then provides another example of how these devices are used by law enforcement.

He writes,

Consider a potential suspect who can’t prove where they were at 11 pm on a Thursday, because they live alone. Something as simple as ordering pizza through a speaker would show the time and location of the request and, if voice recognition is enabled, who made the request. “It might be benign information that someone was ordering a pizza, but it might also be an alibi for somebody,” Orr says.

Police increasingly rely on wearables and smart devices to verify the claims people make during an investigation. Sometimes, the tools can reveal a lie.

Heather Mahalik, a forensics instructor, recalls a Florida case in which a man killed his wife, then tried to impersonate her. The husband sent texts and Facebook messages from his wife’s phone in an attempt to blur the timeline of her disappearance. While the woman’s phone activity continued, her Apple Watch showed a sudden drop in heart rate activity that the husband claimed was due to a dead battery. Activity on the man’s phone synced perfectly with when he used the wife’s phone to post to Facebook. Her phone showed no activity except for when the husband picked it up to post, with timestamps matching his activity to the use of the wife’s phone.

“We were able to tell from his device that he would pick up the phone, take 18 steps, and it corresponded with the time he posted a Facebook post,” Mahalik says.

Connecting information from multiple devices is a common practice, analysts say. Information on one device can suggest evidence on another. This ability to string together discoveries leads to what another expert calls a phased approach to digital forensics.

“They ask for something, the investigation moves along, they find something else interesting, and then they request the next thing,” says Whitfield, the forensic analyst.

O’Toole, Crespo’s lawyer, says police subpoenaed Crespo’s social media accounts right away, then requested his voice recordings about four weeks later. Officers wrote in the search warrant that the speaker data may include “audio recordings capturing the attack on victim Silvia Crespo.”

O’Toole says he intends to introduce the smart speaker recordings in his client’s favor. Via email, a spokesperson for Hallandale Beach Police confirmed the case was still active but did not provide further comment.

O’Toole says smart speaker recordings are part of several cases he’s working on, including a divorce in which a woman subpoenaed data from a smart speaker that may have picked up the sounds of her husband with another woman..

Whitfield says police are becoming more savvy about the information in the smart speakers’ activity logs. He recalls a case where police found drugs in a household with multiple residents. Officers identified a suspect after seizing data from a smart speaker. Its log not only listed recent queries related to drugs but identified who spoke them. Google and Amazon speakers let users create profiles so the devices recognize their individual voices. This information helped police identify the suspect.

“I just don’t see this going away,” Whitfield says. “I think this is going to be more and more prolific as time goes on.”

Whitfield is right.

It will never go away.

Advertisement of these technological devices as a tool for convenience was a manipulative tactic to introduce technological devices for their real purpose – the tracking, monitoring, and recording of citizens so that no action – no matter how small – goes unnoticed. We are already living in a surveillance state and it’s only going to get worse.

Once begun, this bell cannot be unrung.

What are your thoughts on things you said in your own home being used against you by the police? Are you taking any steps to protect yourself from this type of data being collected? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Police Are Requesting Data from People\'s Smart Speakers at an Alarming Rate

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Only way to stop Amazon Alexa recording you at home is to BIN it, experts warn

Posted by M. C. on February 24, 2020

Read the rest if you want. You already know enough.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/11012582/amazon-alexa-recording-audio-home-listen/

“Earlier this week, an ex-Amazon exec admitted that workers do listen to your conversations through Alexa.”

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MIT Technology Review: Amazon’s Alexa Devices Are Recording Your Life

Posted by M. C. on January 27, 2020

I acknowledge my responsibility here as a consumer. I knew the array of seven microphones I had put in the center of my house could hear what we were saying and act on it. I also knew that things we asked Alexa to do were being recorded and sent to Amazon, and that I could play back these recordings and delete them if I wanted to.

MIT, buddies with the CIA, ought to know what they are talking about.

A lot of Baa Baa Baa’s are recorded from the sheeple.

https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/01/27/mit-technology-review-amazons-alexa-devices-are-recording-your-life/

by Lucas Nolan

A recent report from the MIT Technology Review claims that Amazon Alexa home assistant devices may actually be listening in on people’s daily lives even when not given commands.

The MIT Technology Review reports in an article titled “Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell,” that Amazon Alexa home assistant devices are listening in on people’s conversations, a theory that has been around for some time but has never been confirmed.

The MIT Technology Review reports:

 

Beyond all the things I’ve clearly asked Alexa to do, in the past several months it has also tuned in, frequently several times a day, for no obvious reason. It’s heard me complain to my dad about something work-related, chide my toddler about eating dinner, and talk to my husband—the kinds of normal, everyday things you say at home when you think no one else is listening.

And that’s precisely why it’s terrifying: this sort of mundane chitchat is my mundane chitchat. I invited Alexa into our living room to make it easier to listen to Pandora and occasionally check the weather, not to keep a log of intimate family details or record my kid saying “Mommy, we going car” and forward it to Amazon’s cloud storage.

The MIT Technology Review notes that constant recording is one of the unfortunate downsides of home assistants that constantly listen for wake words such as “Alexa!” or “Hey, Siri!”

The MIT Technology Review notes that this is essentially an inherent issue with the technology, writing:

I acknowledge my responsibility here as a consumer. I knew the array of seven microphones I had put in the center of my house could hear what we were saying and act on it. I also knew that things we asked Alexa to do were being recorded and sent to Amazon, and that I could play back these recordings and delete them if I wanted to.

But it’s actually quite frustrating to sort through them. You can scroll through months’ worth in the app, but after you select and listen to one, tapping the Back button brings you to the very top of the list again. Deleting hundreds of rogue recordings one by one in this way would take me a very long time. I could delete everything, including the legitimate recordings, in one go, but Amazon warns that this will make Alexa work less well, so of course I’m unlikely to do it.

Breitbart News has previously published a guide explaining how to stop Amazon employees from having access to Alexa recordings, however, this does not stop the device from recording users’ daily interactions but rather protects them from being listened to by Amazon employees directly. Read the full guide here.

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Amazon’s Alexa Can Accidentally Record and Share Your ...

 

 

 

 

 

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Profile of a CIA-funded vaccine propagandist: Lena Sun at the Washington Post attacks natural health pioneers while pimping deadly vaccines – NaturalNews.com

Posted by M. C. on December 28, 2019

Will Amazon’s Alexa give you a(n expensive) drug recommendation? It should. It listens to everything you say.

Democracy Dies in Darkness – Washington Post motto.  Thanks to WaPo you will too.

https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-12-27-cia-funded-vaccine-propagandist-lena-sun-at-the-washington-post-pimping-deadly-vaccines.html

(Natural News) The Washington Post is a CIA front, owned by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, who also built much of the CIA’s “private cloud” data processing infrastructure after winning a $600 million contract from the agency in 2013. In the years since, the Washington Post has functioned as pure propaganda, pushing fake “Russia hoax” news, smearing Trump administration officials and promoting the lies of deep state criminals like John Brennan and James Comey who are still trying to pull off an illegal political coup.

“The corporate media serve the function of manufacturing consent for government policy by systematically lying to the public about what science tells us about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines,” writes health policy analyst Jeremy R. Hammond on his website.

CIA-funded Amazon.com is quietly turning into a pharmaceutical retailer

But the Washington Post’s malicious propaganda and lies don’t end with geopolitics: They’re also in bed with Big Pharma, pushing the vaccine industry’s talking points while smearing all the pioneers of natural health and health freedom. That’s because Jeff Bezos is quietly turning Amazon.com into a pharmaceutical company, having already purchased one online pharmacy company for $1 billion while rapidly expanding its state pharmacy licenses to be able to retail prescription drugs across America.

According to media reports, Amazon believes it could earn $50 billion a year selling prescription drugs, and it has hired a team of drug industry experts in preparation for launching nationwide prescription medication retail operations.

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But to maximize its drug profits, Jeff Bezos needed a way to suppress the sales of nutritional supplements and natural health products that keep people healthy. After all, healthy people don’t need prescription drugs, and Amazon’s Big Pharma profit model relies on keeping people popping medication pills every day for the rest of their (miserable) lives.

Jeff Bezos uses the Washington Post as a weapon to attack the natural health industry

The Bezos solution? Unleash propagandists like Lena Sun at the Washington Post to smear natural health pioneers like Dr. Mercola, claiming natural health supplements are “un-approved by the FDA.” (Because they’re not drugs, so of course they’re not approved as drugs.)

Lena Sun is, essentially, the “vaccine deep state” propagandist for the CIA front known as the Washington Post, a malicious, anti-America, anti-health, anti-human disinformation rag run by spooks and truly evil people who want the worst for America. These people not only want to see America overrun by illegal immigrants via open borders policies, they want all Americans to stay sick enough to need prescription medications from Amazon.com, which will be announcing a nationwide drug retail operation very soon.

To keep people sick, malicious anti-journalists like Lena Sun have to lie about the safety of vaccines as a way to convince people to keep taking the very shots that spread infectious disease and contaminate their bodies with aluminum, mercury, squalene and other toxic chemicals that are deliberately formulated into vaccines. So Lena Sun, obviously under orders from the vaccine deep state, falsely writes that all vaccines are safety tested against the entire childhood vaccination schedule before being released. It’s an outright lie, of course, and she refuses to retract it, but that’s how the CIA rolls: just gaslight everybody while demanding anyone who questioned your lies be silenced or discredited.

If you see this woman on the street near D.C., hide your children because she wants them to be maimed with medical violence in the form of vaccines:

As Jeremy Hammond explains: Read the rest of this entry »

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Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time

Posted by M. C. on May 7, 2019

Fast-forward to today. We haven’t come to terms that we’re filling our homes with even nosier digital helpers. Said Goodman: “We don’t think of Alexa or the Nest quite that way, but we should.”

High tech consumers, low on the situational awareness scale.

https://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Alexa-has-been-eavesdropping-on-you-this-whole-13822095.php

Geoffrey A. Fowler

Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, “Are you crazy?”

Yet that’s essentially what Amazon has been doing to millions of us with its assistant Alexa in microphone-equipped Echo speakers. And it’s hardly alone: Bugging our homes is Silicon Valley’s next frontier.

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…

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Amazon's Alexa may be eavesdropping - YouTube

 

 

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Amazon’s Alexa Reviewers Can Access Customers’ Home Addresses

Posted by M. C. on April 24, 2019

Is it open mic night at your house?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/amazons-alexa-reviewers-can-access-customers-home-addresses/ar-BBWfwuH

Matt Day, Giles Turner and Natalia Drozdiak
(Bloomberg) — An Amazon.com Inc. team auditing Alexa users’ commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer’s home address, according to five employees familiar with the program.

The team, spread across three continents, transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program, whose existence Bloomberg revealed earlier this month, was set up to help Amazon’s digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands.

Team members with access to Alexa users’ geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program.

While there’s no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device’s owner…

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Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa

Posted by M. C. on April 11, 2019

SHOCKED!

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-10/is-anyone-listening-to-you-on-alexa-a-global-team-reviews-audio?srnd=premium

By

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Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games, find music or trawl for trivia. Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that someone might be listening.

Sometimes, someone is.

Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa’s understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.

The Alexa voice review process, described by seven people who have worked on the program, highlights the often-overlooked human role in training software algorithms. In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching.

The team comprises a mix of contractors and full-time Amazon employees who work in outposts from Boston to Costa Rica, India and Romania, according to the people, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. They work nine hours a day, with each reviewer parsing as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift, according to two workers based at Amazon’s Bucharest office, which takes up the top three floors of the Globalworth building in the Romanian capital’s up-and-coming Pipera district. The modern facility stands out amid the crumbling infrastructure and bears no exterior sign advertising Amazon’s presence.

The work is mostly mundane. One worker in Boston said he mined accumulated voice data for specific utterances such as “Taylor Swift” and annotated them to indicate the searcher meant the musical artist. Occasionally the listeners pick up things Echo owners likely would rather stay private: a woman singing badly off key in the shower, say, or a child screaming for help. The teams use internal chat rooms to share files when they need help parsing a muddled word—or come across an amusing recording…

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