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Amazon Alexa as a Shack Companion

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by M0PSX, Nov 22, 2017.

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  1. W5JPT

    W5JPT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let's see. We have two Echo Dots, two Taps, two Fire TV's. Lots of opportunities for Big Brother to eavesdrop on us. And be bored to death.
    W1YW likes this.
  2. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Got my Echo set up just now. I had to call, yes call, as in telephone, Amazon customer service to have them remove my phone number from Alexa and all the contacts from it, since there is no opt-out on this during the device setup.

    My wife is happily asking Alexa to play music - currently Christmas music.

    If I'm not on the forums after a few days, you'll know that I'm at the Ministry of Love.
    W5JPT likes this.
  3. W5JPT

    W5JPT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's that I've been playing all day. Christmas music. I never did order two Echos. Our Taps are battery powered (rechargeable) and we can put them wherever we want.
  4. KJ6TTR

    KJ6TTR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    One would think that licensed amateur radio operators would have some basic understanding of how the Amazon Echo/Dot devices work. Yet, most of the comments here suggest that they think the device is listening to, recording, and sending the audio back to Amazon, the NSA, or "them." For those that make that claim or supposition, how about providing some evidence. Or, are you all flat-earthers, too?
    K2LED, WU8Y, W0AEW and 1 other person like this.
  5. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That was great, thanks for posting it. :)
    W1YW likes this.
  6. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sean (KJ6TTR):

    Well... since you asked...

    "All of Samsung's smart TVs — which take voice commands — come with a warning to consumers that essentially says: Your TV is listening and might be sending what you say to Samsung and a third party responsible for transcribing what you say."

    "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition," the privacy policy says.

    Hmmmmm. Looks like its already happened.

    Brian - K6BRN

    Chairman and CEO
  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    So what?

    If you aren't doing anything that hurts other people, or yourself, who cares?

    My dog hears everything I say. She just gives a dog smile and licks my hand.

    Do you honestly think that the so-called 'listeners' have a spectrum of responses that exceeds a dog?
  8. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    This story is about Samsung smart TV's. not Amazon Alexa.

    How many things in your house have microphones? In you car? Heck, I have 2 cars that were wired - at the factory - with microphones and bluetooth.

    iPhone and iPads, for example, have microphones, cameras, and a host of other sensors, are usually carried around (esp. the phone), and there is no hard switch for the mics/cameras. You can't even really turn them off - batteries aren't removable. The Alexa being discussed here has an easily accessible mic switch, but if you don't trust that, you can unplug it. It's also a purpose build device - you don't load "apps" on it, it (should) only talk via IP to Amazon, so it's pretty easy to monitor.

    Relative risk is something humans seem to be terrible at determining. Is there a risk using Alexa? Yes, of course. But in the spectrum of risks, it's pretty low when compared to other devices we have in out home or carry around with us. How many of you have, or have had:
    • A smart phone
    • A dumb phone
    • A phone of any type - including an analog, plain old telephone - even from 50 years ago.
    • A computer (mics, camera, Internet connection)
    • Laptop
    • Tablet
    • Any bluetooth device - including your car.
    • Xbox/PS3/PS4/etc.
    • Cable TV - especially a modern Xfinity type device that listens to you
    • Baby monitors, radios (ham/CB/FRS/MURS,etc.), cordless phones, wireless intercoms, etc. - all predating the Internet.
    • Many more... security systems,
    The easiest target, and most data heavy target out there is your cellphone. Many people carry it with them (duh), it has a ton of sensors (mic, camera, GPS, etc.) you have conversations with others on it, as well as access txts, e-mail, websites, etc. By design, it's open to third party apps that can access all of this, many don't have a battery you can remove and connect to a data infrastructure you can't manage. There are MANY published exploits. Risk is MUCH HIGHER than an Alexa.

    If Alexa worries you, your cell phone should absolutely terrify you. ;)
    W0AEW and N0TZU like this.
  9. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think the problem folks have with Alexa is that it is a purpose build device, designed to listen. That's it's only purpose. But when this SAME listening feature is bundled in with a bunch of other stuff (Siri on an iPhone, for example) it's not as much a worry. Why? This is where our ability to gauge risk fails us. The purpose built device is much easier to secure and test - I can do it from my home, using my router. Not so easy with an iPhone with easily hundreds of open connections to different servers, and over a network I can't manage (AT&T/Verizon,etc).

    Not everyone has a smartphone, and some don't because of these concerns. But really this is a very small part of the population - if you conduct business in this world it's had NOT to do so without a smartphone.

    So, if you think Alexa is bad, bad, bad, AND you have a smartphone, I'd sure like to hear the rational on that one... :rolleyes:
    N0TZU likes this.
  10. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    KV60, W1YW:


    Whether data mining via Alexa or any of the very similar devices like Samsung voice command "scares" you or your dog is really up to you. The fact that these devices collect many personal metrics and data regarding you and your family, tirelessly and automatically, means that no one needs to get bored to death doing it. They just have to sift through the databases, which will be widely sold and traded, perhaps to see who:

    1. Prefers certain products
    2. Has certain health problems
    3. Uses certain services and banks
    4. Is active during certain hours
    5. Perhaps to gather info on personal wealth and your rank in purchasing power.
    6. Gather info on other personal habits (smoking, family stability, etc.)

    These metrics will then be (and are being) used to target sales and solicitations to you, perhaps to fine tune your credit score, pehaps your medical and insurance risk profiles. And more. Its a bonanza of data for many businesses, regarding their potential customers.

    Inevitably, all of these databases will be hacked, and your metrics, including, perhaps some incidentally collected data concerning credit cards and numbers, investments and bank accounts will likely fall into the hands of thieves and be used inappropriately.

    And of course law enforement at all levels will have access to the databases via court order. So trials and divorces might become a tad more interesting.

    Social researchers are also likely to purchase database access to profile behaviors, and much more.

    This is already happening through many other means. Alexa and its kin, like Samsung voice command, simply expands automated data collection well beyond your internet browsing habits and into your kitchen, bedroom and living room. Again, if its OK with you, its OK with me. You didn't think these services we actually cheap or free, did you? You pay for them with personal data. So people are SO gullible.

    Lots of profit, here. Just as there is in gathering internet browsing data and genetic information from "inexpensive" gene testing kits (have some fun and read the disclosures regarding data use that comes with the kits - then recognize that the company collecting the data no longer has control of it once its sold or stolen)

    And if you are OK with that, that's fine by me. No doubt this will be one of the biggest industries of the emerging generation. We live in an age of information, after all, where the good, the bad, the personal and the ugly is out for all to see.

    I know I'm safe and secure, because I always wear a great tin foil hat to protect me. :)

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