Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Story Behind the Echo Eavesdropping Story

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

The story of an Amazon Echo sending a private conversation to a woman’s contacts has been making the rounds since it showed up in a local news story earlier this week.

Amazon’s statement on the matter says that this was a case of a false positive phrase triggering an Echo feature that lets you send voice messages to your contacts. (iOS has a similar feature built in to Messages, albeit not voice activated.) Usually, this requires a few steps worth of confirmation, which again, could be falsely triggered by overhearing a conversation. It’s extremely unlikely, but given the number of requests and number of devices out there, even a one-in-a-million incident is going to happen, you know, one in a million times.

What I suspect happened, as some other sites have speculated, is that the confirmation query was issued on a device that wasn’t in the room the people were in. (Or the volume was down on the responding device.)

John Gruber:

I do have a few Echo devices, but I never granted them access to my contacts and never enabled “Calling and Messaging”. If you did, and now wish to disable it, you need to call Amazon on the phone. Not joking.

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