November 11, 2018
People will make a big deal about how microphones on phones and laptops can be turned on to record them. Technically this is true, but if you’re using an iPhone, someone has to pay over a million dollars to the Israelis to get it turned on.
More importantly, those recordings are illegal, so while they could be used to spy on you in some kind of high-level espionage operation, they aren’t ever going to appear in court. You can’t present illegal recordings in a criminal court (theoretically they could be leaked and used in a civil court, but probably not).
So the whole “gahhhhh phone is recording you” thing is not something I advise people to really worry too much about. Although if you are a dissident, I advise you to use iPhone rather than Android because it is possible an Antifa could put up the cash to spy on your Android. They’re not going to pay over a million dollars to open up your iPhone.
Anyway, the much more serious business is when you LEGALLY give your information over to companies which can store and sell this information, or use it in criminal court. This is the whole thing with the Discord chat app – they are literally selling these chat logs to Antifa groups, legally, because when you sign up for their services you are agreeing that anything you enter into that program belongs to them.
This is much different than even Skype – we know that the CIA records every single Skype conversation and converts it into a searchable text database (that was released in Wikileaks’ Vault 7 drop), but unless you are being charged as a terrorist and thus declared an enemy combatant without Constitutional rights, that information is never going to be used against you. Unless it is subpoenaed, but it would be subpoenaed through Skype, not the CIA, obviously, and I’m not sure they keep the data in the same way that the CIA does. Anyway, I don’t recommend using Skype either, I’m just saying.
The bigger deal than some secret spying program is when you actually agree to give your data over to a company.
Now enter the Amazon Alexa/Echo. This is a device that you put in your home that you enter into a contract allowing it to record EVERYTHING IT HEARS, which is everything that anyone says in your home. They then store all of this information on their servers, and that can all be brought into a criminal court.
I assume it can also be subpoenaed, even in a civil case.
A judge has ordered Amazon to turn over recordings that might have been captured by an Echo smart speaker in the Farmington house where two women were stabbed to death in January 2017.
Timothy Verrill of Dover is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of Jenna Pellegrini, 32, and Christine Sullivan, 48. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said they believe the Echo device, which listens for Alexa voice commands, might have recorded audio of Sullivan’s death, as well as anything that happened before or after it.
State police have the speaker, and the judge agreed to let them access the recordings and ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings on its servers.
Experts said the case reveals some of the implications of having such devices in people’s homes.
“I think most people probably don’t even realize that Alexa is taking account of what’s going on in your house, in addition to responding to your demands and commands,” said Albert Scherr, a professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
People putting these things inside of their homes is absolute lunacy.
It just goes to show that if something is shown to be socially acceptable, people will go along with it, and mega corporations have the ability to ensure that whatever they want to be socially acceptable is made socially acceptable.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t own the second most powerful newspaper in America as a hobby.
The privacy issue is yet another reason we need the tech industry regulated. This has all gotten completely insane. There are virtually no regulations on any of it – if you click a EULA, you have signed a contract. And even if you are one of the .0000000001% of people who reads a EULA, you still have no idea what it says, because they are worded in such a way as to make them impossible to understand.
It is time for the government to fully and completely regulate all of these companies. I want to see tanks driven into Silicon Valley and all of these assholes pulled out of their offices in handcuffs and forced in front of a tribunal.