We all expect to have a certain level of privacy in our own homes. But what if I told you everything you say is being recorded 24/7? If you sport Amazon’s Echo in your home, that is exactly what is happening.
In the last few years, investigators have compelled Amazon to turn over Echo data in criminal cases – particularly violent crimes such as murder. Many people, Amazon personnel included, believe that this falls in direct violation of a citizen’s First Amendment rights. Amazon did not want to violate their customers’ privacies, but were ultimately left with no choice.
How committed are you to protecting your privacy?
If you own an Amazon Echo or another type of voice-assistant speaker, your expectation of privacy drops significantly. This includes if you use the ultra-convenient features on phones such as Samsung’s Bixby, Google’s Pixel and Apple’s Siri. In one way or another, your data is being tracked.
There are things you can do to protect your privacy when using voice-assistant speakers including:
- Changing the settings to button-activated assistance instead of voice-activation, if possible
- Turning off your microphone or the application
- Be careful not to use words that could trigger the feature such as using words similar to Alexa or Bixby
- Be aware that anything you say could be overheard
- Refrain from using such devices in your home or private areas
There is still much to be learned about artificial intelligence systems and the steps we can take to safeguard our private conversations. While using the data as “key witnesses” and pieces of evidence can be convenient for prosecutors, it should not come at the cost of compromising our constitutional rights.