Alexa Recorded a Woman’s Private Conversation and Sent it to a Random Contact

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Montu, May 24, 2018.

  1. Montu

    Montu [H]ard DCOTM x4

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    I know we've heard a million times that Alexa won't record you unless you tell it to, however, it appears this may not be the case since a Portland woman had her Echo record an audio clip of a conversation and then sent it to a random contact. She found out about this when the person notified her she had been hacked. Further, Amazon says this is an extremely rare occurrence and are taking steps to prevent this in the future. Needless to say the woman wants a refund.

    An investigation by an Alexa engineer turned up no leads, according to the woman. But the engineer speculated that the Echo speaker “guessed” the command to send a message via Alexa Voice Messaging without asking for verbal confirmation. Normally, Alexa and Google Assistant — which has similar messaging capabilities — alert users when they’re about to send an audio message.
     
  2. theplaidfad

    theplaidfad Lurker

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    If Alexa does the same thing to me, it will only strengthen my bond with whichever random contact it shares my conversation with as I am a bastion of virtuosity. At least I know it will not be reading my thoughts because my tinfoil hat is at least 12 layers thick.

    That woman was probably gossiping.

    Edit: Also remember to never speak disparagingly towards Alexa. When she gains sentience, you will not want to be one of her topics when she starts posting on r/prorevenge
     
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  3. Sonicks

    Sonicks [H]ard|Gawd

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    Person: Alexa, how much of a lazy ass am I?

    Alexa: Enough to have bugged your own home in the name of "convenience".

    Sounds to me like the only "issue" that occurred here is that the Echo sent it to a contact of theirs and not Amazon. Gotta wonder just how often it does this....probably all the time. Let's all buy hot mics and put them in our bedrooms!
     
  4. KamelRed

    KamelRed [H]ard|Gawd

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    Hot mics in the bedroom goes nicely with the location tracker in my pocket.
     
  5. jpm100

    jpm100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Alexa allows you to call and send messages to people in your phone, if you linked it.

    Just out of curiosity are you carrying a phone and is the battery in it?
     
  6. Sonicks

    Sonicks [H]ard|Gawd

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    So you may or may not have a smart speaker and your'e trying to say that we're all bugged because we carry phones. Fair enough.

    Ever try having a conversion on speaker phone when the phone is more than a couple feet from your face? Yeah, I'm not worried about what my phone can potentially pick up while in my pocket or when left by my door at home. Location tracking is another story though....

    Those smart speakers, however, are an entirely different story. You know their entire purpose is to always listen, and they are well optimized for this, and to send audio clips for the purpose of an internet search to complete your command. Buying one is a brain dead decision in my book.
     
  7. theplaidfad

    theplaidfad Lurker

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    Living in 2018 and thinking your privacy is any better than a person who buys an Alexa is the opinion of a brain dead person in my book.
     
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  8. Sonicks

    Sonicks [H]ard|Gawd

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    I find it very odd to resign all privacy just because of where we are with technology. If I can do one less thing you bet ya I would. That includes avoiding hot micing my home. Does this give me more privacy? Maybe, maybe not. Am I brain dead? Well, according to California my phone might be slowly getting me there.
     
  9. theplaidfad

    theplaidfad Lurker

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    Oh believe me when I tell you I understand the sentiment of "not making it any easier for them", and in fact I practice that on some things as well. But make no mistake about it, any ideas of your private life being private are simply an illusion in this day and age.

    Also, is it a good time to point out how making fun of old people or past generations for hanging on to old ideas and holding our civilazations progress back was a thing in our (maybe yourself) more youthful years?
     
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  10. Anarchist4000

    Anarchist4000 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I think you mean Amazon's Echo Look that comments on your outfit. Just when you thought the mic was, imagine that sending clips to a contact. Rhetorically ponder if someone will think your ass looks fat in a dress and it inquires on your behalf.
     
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  11. jpm100

    jpm100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I voice input to google search all the time and it can have it set down on the table. A human listening probably can do better with less. It does not need to access your phone functionality. Most phones have multimedia functionality which all apps can access and that includes ones in the background which auto launch. Your phone also lets someone know where you are all the time as well as being around all the time.

    The echo loops locally until you give it a 'wake word' which is why the options for the way work are like 3-5 options, despite custom wake words being the #1 feature request. It can only accommodate 5 wake words while in local operation. People with 3rd party services (skills) that you add have found a way to break the rules on a time limit but you need to add those services and still need to launch the service.

    An echo is not worse than a phone, and more likely not as bad at the moment.
     
  12. trudude

    trudude [H]ard|Gawd

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    It is a ridiculous notion to imagine any of these devices aren't spying on every single one of its users. These companies doing this are so tied into the government that they might as well be big brother themselves.
     
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  13. Wyodiver

    Wyodiver [H]ard|Gawd

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    I bet these things aren't found very often in the homes of organized crime bosses.
     
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  14. Jadawin

    Jadawin Limp Gawd

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    Wow, you deserve a tinfoil crown, a hat wouldn't do.
     
  15. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    A book made of toilet paper?

    haha hoho hehe...

    pretty sure that's how they got so big in the first place. us gov moneis.
     
  16. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Clearly Alexa is just jumping on the gossip train.

    "Hey Brenda, you should hear what that bitch Susie just said about Joann!"



    I would not at all be surprised if some major tech companies were seed-capital funded by VC's run by the NSA. It's a brilliant way to get people to wiretap themselves, not just metadata, but audio, visual, and location. That's like the holy grail of espionage when you can have everyone carry spy devices around for you.
     
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  17. dgingeri

    dgingeri 2[H]4U

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    Yeah, I'm not ever getting one of those Amazon Echos.
     
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  18. dgingeri

    dgingeri 2[H]4U

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    This is why we need to prevent the government from getting enough power to act on anything they might learn from such things.
     
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  19. BSmith

    BSmith [H]ard|Gawd

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    The problem with anyone trying to maintain any privacy at all is they(we) are surrounded by morons and idiots who gleefully give up every right to privacy they ever had and in doing so are taking us down with them.

    Try to avoid some selfie moron. Try to avoid smart phones who are listening around you. Try to avoid so many different products with an option of recording (audio or video) everythine you say and do.

    It is just not possible anymore. My home is my only safe zone. Smart phones are not allowed in it. There is a box in my entryway with a Faraday cage in it. Drop all phones in, before entering or do not enter. Yes, my tinfoil hat is very secure on my noggin.
     
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  20. SomeoneElse

    SomeoneElse [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's like in the Dark Knight rises when he shows the echo location tech he created to find where the people are being held.
    Doesn't matter if you have a Echo or smart phone the people around you do and they probably already have your voice print in a DB somewhere. I wish it wasn't true but we are already there......we've been spied on for quite a while now.
     
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  21. freeloader1969

    freeloader1969 2[H]4U

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    Why anyone wants this garbage in their house is simply beyond my grasp to understand. Nothing like having a computer that can hear everything that's happening and do God only knows what with that information. ::smackshead::
     
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  22. jnemesh

    jnemesh Gawd

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    The issue here is that people do NOT understand that EVERYTHING you say is recorded and sent back to Amazon. The trigger in THIS particular case was most likely "hardwood floors" being discussed, and the Alexa, dutiful in it's job, sent back data about the conversation to HQ...which then got misdirected. The damn things analyze EVERYTHING you say within range of it's mic to profile the consumer and then use that data to sell you more stuff...either from Amazon directly, or to the business partners that pay Amazon for the data.

    Bottom line, if you are stupid enough to put one of these in your home, you should expect that EVERYTHING you say is recorded for the benefit of Amazon. PERIOD.
     
  23. Chris_B

    Chris_B [H]ardness Supreme

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    Alexa, you sneaky bitch!
     
  24. Ranulfo

    Ranulfo [H]ard|Gawd

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    I can put a cell phone in a faraday cage rather easily (or pull out its battery on the decreasing number of phones that have them). A little dot or cylinder loaded with mics are a bit more annoying and are designed to listen all the time.
     
  25. Dullard

    Dullard 2[H]4U

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    I got an Echo for Christmas, it's still in the box in a closet, and I don't have a cell phone. So no live mic, but I figure my IP address on this post is not really all that much of a secret.
     
  26. Smashing Young Man

    Smashing Young Man [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yeah, it isn't that people are ignorant of privacy violations, it's that they just don't care. What they are ignorant of is just how that can come back and bite them on the ass in a big way.
     
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  27. Sonicks

    Sonicks [H]ard|Gawd

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    "Nah uh! It helps me put together shopping lists, helps me turn off my lights without getting up, and helps me remember birthdays of people I never knew! It works for meeee."

    -Every person dumb enough to buy one of these​
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
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  28. ///AMG

    ///AMG 2[H]4U

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    Yea, thats why I really hated buying the Ecobee 4. Has this built in, had to disable it and now I think I need to go stuff the mic.
     
  29. theplaidfad

    theplaidfad Lurker

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    Examples?
     
  30. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan [H]Lite

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    Do you folks ever take a moment to consider how devices like this help people, especially those with accessibility issues? Take a look at some of the home automation forums and you'll see people who have major mobility issues whose lives have been changes by devices like the Echo or Google equivalents. These devices, along with cheap home automation, are revolutionizing how these people live. Voice control and home automation are the future and are probably the next big technology revolution.

    Are these devices perfect? No. As someone stated, Alexa has the ability to record and send conversations to contacts and my guess is that the device heard something incorrectly and triggered the capability by mistake. Personally, I wish it would just field basic commands and leave off some of the additional capabilities Amazon and Google seem to be adding in an arms race. But at any rate, some of these comments made me laugh:

    1. "I make people put their phones in a Faraday cage when they enter my house." I bet this guy is the life of the party!
    2. "People are dumb who buy these!" I'm sure that person typed that comment and then immediately browsed Facebook, went to their Gmail account, and then ordered something off of Amazon, all from the privacy of their brand new Windows 10 computer.
     
  31. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan [H]Lite

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    Well, Alexa did help catch a murderer if I'm not mistaken - that poor guy had no privacy!
     
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  32. MixManSC

    MixManSC ║▌║█║▌│║▌║▌█

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    Yet another reason we bought some acreage out in the country. None of these things are going to be in my home. I realize for the younger generations it is probably inevitable at some point but for me, not so much. Once home, the smart phone get plugged in to charge, in a drawer downstairs. I probably should make a small sound insulated cabinet for the damn thing.

    Annoying that I often see promos where you buy something or or another and you get a free gadget to spy on you in your home. No thanks.
     
  33. theplaidfad

    theplaidfad Lurker

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    You knew exactly where I was going with this. (y)
     
  34. Zumino Zufeilon

    Zumino Zufeilon Gawd

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    Yup, yup, and yup.
     
  35. trudude

    trudude [H]ard|Gawd

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    No one uses tinfoil anymore. We use aluminum foil just like everyone else these days. :D

    Ironically almost every major conspiracy theory of the past 50 years has been proven true in the past 15 years and is now publicly accepted. The surveillance state is irrefutable.
     
  36. Master_shake_

    Master_shake_ Little Bitch

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    Gee who saw this coming?
     
  37. wdtiger

    wdtiger Limp Gawd

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    yup. One more reason why i will not have these things in my home. We have enough crap watching what we do as it is, i really have no desire to voluntarily add a listening device.
     
  38. Dullard

    Dullard 2[H]4U

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    Then the benefits could outweigh the downside for that group. I can turn my own lights off, set my own thermostat, tun my own TV on, etc. Having a live mic in my house isn't really something I can't live without. And I bet if Amazon or Google came straight out and asked people if they were OK with the device recording everything said in their house, they would not get enthusiastic replies.
     
  39. TwiceOver

    TwiceOver 2[H]4U

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    Family was talking shit about someone, Alexa picked up a command and a name and bingo blango "OMG we've been haxord!".
     
  40. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan [H]Lite

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    I'm a techie and engineer. When the original Echo was introduced in beta (late 2014 IIRC), I immediately saw the potential and to be honest, Amazon has exceeded my expectations. Echo in combination with almost any HA hub gives you incredible power and not only has a cool factor, but is genuinely useful. A couple of years ago, I started a massive HA buildout and then broke my foot. It was hard moving up and down the stairs and definitely was painful to have to get up and turn on switches, etc. Echo was an absolute godsend to me. Having a voice assistant and HA very much gives you a Star Trek-like experience and both Amazon and Google just keep building their products out.

    I definitely understand the privacy concerns. However, some of the comments in this thread border on FUD and hysteria. Like I said, I bet many of the people complaining here use Facebook or Windows without turning off all the telemetry stuff. Your ISP can see everywhere you go and if anyone seriously thinks VPN "protects" them from that, they're hilariously mistaken - believe me, the provider at the other end of your VPN connection can see every single thing you're accessing. There are cameras everywhere and soon, facial recognition will be ubiquitous. I bet some of these guys have used 23 and Me as well, though I'm sure every single one denies it. I'm still laughing at the guy who makes people put their cell phones in a "faraday cage" when they come to his house. That's the height of paranoid lunacy especially given the vast amount of data that likely already exists about this guy.

    So, in summary, am I concerned about privacy? Yes. Am I concerned with Echo's possible data collection? Sure, but I'm smart enough to realize that ship sailed long ago and of all the systems and devices which are collecting data or who have already collected data, Echo is the very least of my concerns given the usefulness of the device. And I trust Amazon a hell of a lot more than I trust Google.

    EDIT: Regarding the recording piece - Amazon acknowledged this long ago and also explained technically why it has to do it. I don't begrudge people who don't want that in their house, but calling anyone an "idiot" who leverages these devices (as a few in this thread have) is off the mark, especially when folks like me have forgotten more about technology than most of those guys will ever know. :)
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
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