Is the Internet Spying on You?

It seems more and more people are beginning to realize that privacy is eroding — and that it matters.


Late last month, several media sources reported the story of a teenager in Issaquah, Washington, who became so concerned about her mother’s new Amazon Echo and its ability to listen in on all conversations in the living room that she removed it and hid it from her mother. Aanya Nigam, 16, is like many teenagers today. She has a plethora of social media accounts and shares information using those platforms. But she says she chooses what to share and what not to share. The Amazon Echo is an “Internet of things” device that listens in and activates via certain commands. Because it is always waiting for those commands, Aanya realized it is always listening. That was too much for her.


Her mother described Aanya’s reaction by remarking, “I guess there is a difference between deciding to share something and having something captured by something that you don’t know when it’s listening,” reported the New York Post.


According to Amazon, the device “is designed around your voice. It’s hands-free and always on. With seven microphones and beam-forming technology, Echo can hear you from across the room — even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.”


OK, so it looks as though Aanya is on to something here. Any way you look at this, it’s creepy. People are buying these devices and actually bugging their own living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and other rooms for the sake of convenient entertainment. And what’s more, Amazon says the device is “ever-evolving”: “Alexa — the brain behind Echo — is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.”


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