Hey, are you a proud owner of Google Home who got all pissy when you found an ad inserted your morning summary? Well, suck it up, buttercup. Bryan Chaffin argues you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.
Home virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and to a lesser extent, Apple’s Siri, are loved by some and feared by others. Here at TMO, our staff falls on both sides of that line. Most of us love Amazon’s Echo/Dot/Alexa, while I personally hold my nose at the underlying technology and fear its potential for home surveillance. I should add that most of our staff also think I’m flat out wrong. Note that I’m OK with that. Of all the virtual assistant companies, only Apple has a stated position of protecting our privacy, but the company also hasn’t released hardware like Amazon Echo or Dot. Online comic strip XKCD took a snarky, succinct— and yet oblique—look at the subject. I’d love to know what our readers think.
Bob LeVitus joins Bryan and Jeff to talk about his new book, Working Smarter for Mac Users. They talk about why Bob wrote it and the things Bryan learned from editing it. They also talk about the CIA iPhone hacks leaked to Wikileaks and the home automation hub they wish they could buy.
Did you hear the one about the TV company that spied on its customers, sold that data to third parties, and got a slap on the wrist from the FTC? Bryan Chaffin has the details, and he’s pretty cranky about it.
Police in Bentonville, Arkansas, obtained a search warrant for the audio captured by an Amazon Echo as part of a homicide investigation, raising concerns over just how much smarthome devices know about us. In the case of the Echo, Amazon says little is being recorded and stored, but that’s not much of a consolation for IoT device owners who’re worried their tech might be used against them by the government.
With police getting search warrants for Amazon Echo recordings questions about personal privacy are on the rise. Dave Hamilton and Kelly Guimont join Jeff Gamet to look at what Amazon’s Echo hears and records, what our other smarthome devices may be logging, and what that means for our privacy and police investigations.
Vanity Fair has a great piece about zero day exploits, the black market for selling them (to mostly governments, including repressive regimes), how they’re used to spy, and how the whole thing came to be. The story, which is quite long, is built around a particular piece of sophisticated spyware discovered by a couple of researchers, and Apple’s “engineering feat” that patched against the exploits in just ten days.