Internet of Things is Spying on You in your Home
By Mark Wachtler
Amazon and US spy agencies have been business partners for years. Image courtesy of Natural News.
January 3, 2017. Bentonville, AR (ONN) Bentonville, Arkansas is the home of Wal-Mart and now home to the first known instance of local police demanding the audio recordings from inside a private home captured by an internet device – an Amazon Echo. The homeowner is accused of murdering his friend and police believe his Echo system may have recorded the murder. In-home spying by internet devices has been going on for five years and readers may be surprised by how widespread it has become.
It’s called ‘the internet of things’. Basically, it’s a new lifestyle in which commerce and communication are carried out ‘in the cloud’. The ‘cloud’ is actually an endless list of connected server farms located all over the world. Until now, personal computers were both the pencil and the paper. Today, computers are only the pencil. The paper is some far away corporate server where all your activity is saved and used by corporations, government agencies, and whoever else wants to buy your information.
Amazon Fire and Echo
In 2014, we warned readers that the new Amazon Fire devices like their TV and phone were spying on users. Anytime the devices were used, they recorded the audio and video of everything around them, including in homes and bedrooms. The recordings were then stored on the cloud. Voice recognition capability allowed the devices to catalog speech and habits of specific individuals and use it to create secret files on every customer.
In the Bentonville murder case, Amazon insists that while their devices are always listening, they don’t begin to record and save audio and video until the owner uses the activation command word. In the case of the Amazon Echo, the word is Alexa. Apple devices use the name Siri. When the devices hear you say their name, they begin recording.
So far, Amazon has refused to turn over any recordings or transcripts from the Bentonville murder suspect’s account to police. The homeowner’s defense attorney told the press, “I have a problem that a Christmas gift that is supposed to better your life can be used against you. It’s almost like a police state.”
Kids toys spying
Just this Christmas, a host of consumer watchdog organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Genesis Toys and its cloud computing partner Nuance Communications. The complaint was filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Consumers Union. The groups accuse the two corporations of illegally spying on children in their homes without their parents’ consent.
The two toys accused of recording their surroundings and saving it to the cloud are the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Robot. The complaint reads, ‘Both Genesis Toys and Nuance Communications unfairly and deceptively collect, use, and disclose audio files of children’s voices without providing adequate notice or obtaining verified parental consent.’ The watchdogs also warn that the US Military and numerous federal spy agencies are customers of Nuance Communications.
It seems every year we at Whiteout Press warn our readers about devices connected to the internet spying on them inside their homes. Here is just a sampling of past Whiteout Press articles on the subject:
October 2015 – Windows 10 is Spying on You
July 2014 – Amazon Fire Devices are spying in US Homes
February 2014 – Google Chrome Browser is a Secret Listening Device
October 2013 – AT&T, LinkedIn, Google, Verizon spying and censoring
March 2012 – Feds spying on You through your Appliances
May 2011 – Corporation caught Spying in Homes
As readers can see, this is nothing new. As a rule of thumb, any device that is voice activated can, and probably is, recording you and being stored in your file on the cloud. On your smart phone – any pictures you take, calls you make, texts you send, videos you record, businesses you search for, and even your ever-changing location – are all stored on the cloud.
The corporations insist they only capture and store what goes on in your home, and even your child’s bedroom, because it helps them serve up better ads to you with products and services you might like or already are buying. Sell more stuff to more people more often – that’s their goal. But why are US spy agencies and the US military buying access to all these files, recordings and personal happenings inside our homes? That’s the scarier question.
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