Remember the Portland couple with the nosy Alexa?
Last year, SecureWorld covered the story of Danielle, whose Amazon Alexa device accidentally recorded her personal conversations and sent them to her husband's employees. Amazon explained Alexa's mistake like this:
"Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like 'Alexa.' Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request. At which point, Alexa said out loud 'To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right.' As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely."
In California, though, something like this might soon be illegal.
Take that, Alexa!
With a name like "The Anti-Eavesdropping Act," you know California has privacy on the mind.
The state legislature is trying to pass a bill that would make it illegal for smart speakers to record your conversations—or at least get your written permission first.
Jordan Cunningham, the California Assemblyman who authored the bill, was frank about the law's goals:
“Today, the State Assembly sent a strong message to the tech giants who have spent years recording and retaining private conversations in the home via smart devices.
Tech giants have provided consumers with a false choice: live in a smart and interconnected home, or keep your conversations private. We can have both. Private conversations in the home should remain private, and no company should have the ability to record these conversations without consent.”
So Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google need to start watching their backs.
If we won't talk to Alexa, who (or what) will?
Worried that these smart speakers might get a little lonely if they can't record our conversations? Don't be.
Because, aside from the fact that these devices, you know, don't feel emotions, a group from the of University of Washington already developed a solution in 2017.
SecureWorld wrote about the students who developed a "socialbot" that managed to talk to Alexa for over 10 minutes.
Oh, and did we mention that they won $500,000 for it?
So who knows? Maybe building "socialbots" for Alexas in California is an industry you should consider.