Smart home device conversations listened to by employees

16th April 2019 / United Kingdom
Smart home device conversations listened to by employees

Smart home devices have been recording conversations and sending them back to the tech company they came from. Amazon, Google and Apple have all admitted to the practice, saying it’s required for product development and that customers can opt out, although in many cases this is buried deep in long and confusing terms and conditions.

Legal and policy officer Griff Ferris from BigBrotherWatch says:

Many of our worries about smart home devices appear to be proving true. The very nature of a smart home is one of ambient surveillance and constant recording, while major technology companies’ entire business models are built around surveillance, with terms of use deliberately set up to protect the company’s interests rather than the users’. People should think very carefully about the potential consequences before bringing one into their homes.”

Ashkan Soltani, the former chief technologist of the US Federal Trade Commission, wrote: “Most people consider a person listening significantly more privacy invasive than a machine.”

Matt Walmsley, EMEA director at cybersecurity company Vectra, said that the report is “a reminder that whilst AI is increasingly powering our digital services, there are often still humans involved in the background, either curating data or acting as an integral part to its processing.”

Bloomberg reported reviewers listening to audio recordings from Amazon Echo devices are able to see the first name of customers, as well as their Amazon account number and the serial number of the Echo device.



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