Amazon Echo: Spy Tool or Innovation?
Amazon is going all in on Echo, a piece of technology that listens for voice commands. All the time. What might it do with that microphone when not actively taking instructions?
With the government actively being caught spying on everyday citizens, it seems eerie that computing might be moving to something that relies more on voice. The government could be listening to every conversation. For most people, it wouldn’t seem to matter. It would seem that most people do not interest the government very much.
However, for the few people who do, this technology being used to spy on them would be a violation of their rights. If it were used to make an arrest, and then it came out in court that the government had been spying through privately owned technology, it could lead to a release. That is why spying is bad in a constitutionally free society.
So while it might be nice to have a computer to which you can issue verbal commands, it could also be building the security state. With the kinds of things the Edward Snowden revelation have uncovered, things like domestic spying have to be taken into account whenever buying new technology. Of course, with the new toy from Amazon, it might be an over-reaction. The thing might, in fact, just be an innovative tool, doing what its meant to do.
The problem is that these days you can never be sure. If you have a lot of high-profile or highly sensitive conversations in a room, it’s best not to have a voice-activated system there or anything with Google Chrome on it. These systems could very well be eavesdropping on you. Or worse, the same systems could be compromised, and your business conversations could be leaked, thereby weakening a competitive advantage.
All this and more is possible in a world where such devices become the rule instead of the exception. It may seem old-fashioned and backwards-thinking, but sticking to a PC that doesn’t have a built-in webcam and microphone might be the safest way to operate, especially in a business environment, at the moment. These devices may be okay for certain uses in the home, but in a business environment they represent a whole new level of vulnerability, for little gain in terms of profitability.
The best point that can be made here is that when buying these devices, we must be very careful, and mindful of where they are deployed. They could just as easily be devices meant to hear our every word, and that’s only okay if we’re not saying anything they don’t like.
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