Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Amazon Echo Privacy

John Gruber:

There’s an argument that we’re still in the very early stages of voice-driven personal computing. That, for example, Apple is not too late in putting out an Echo-like dedicated appliance. But Amazon is running full steam ahead here. 5,000 hotel rooms here, 5,000 hotel rooms there, and all of a sudden Echo is the entrenched market leader.

Elizabeth Weise (via Hacker News):

Police in Bentonville, Ark., asked Amazon for audio and other records from an Echo digital assistant in the home of James Andrew Bates after Victor Collins was found dead in Bates’ hot tub last year, The Information reported Tuesday.


Amazon refused both times. In a statement to USA TODAY, Amazon said will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on it.


It’s important to note that “always listening” doesn’t mean “always recording.” The Echo is actually only always listening for its “wake word,” which by default is the name of its voice recognition program Alexa.

The Echo only keeps fewer than 60 seconds of recorded sound in its storage buffer. As new sound is recorded, the old is erased. So there’s no audio record made of what went on in a room where an Echo sits.

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