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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    Be Mindfull - Amazon's Alexa is listening and learning



    Amazon staff reportedly listen to Alexa recordings, but company insists it takes privacy seriously


    Amazon is insisting it takes its customers' privacy and security seriously, after a Bloomberg report found recordings of voice commands made to AI-powered voice assistant Alexa could be heard by more people than expected.

    Key points:

    • Amazon specifies it uses data to train Alexa's speech recognition and language understanding systems
    • The company did not make it clear that recordings from devices can be heard by workers in the US, India, Costa Rica and elsewhere
    • Devices only record when a "wake word", like "Alexa", are spoken, but ambient noise can sometimes trick them into recording


    Bloomberg News reported Amazon employees around the world listened to recordings from smart speakers as part of improving its machine learning in assisting customers.

    Like Apple's Siri and the Google Home devices, Alexa is a digital assistant built into several Amazon devices.
    Amazon does make it clear that it uses data "to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems", with users given the chance to opt out.

    But it does not explicitly say that training involves workers in the United States, India, Costa Rica and other nations around the world.
    The report said Alexa's auditors do not have access to customers' full names or address, but they do have serial numbers and account numbers associated with the device.

    "We take the security and privacy of our customers' personal information seriously," an Amazon statement given to Bloomberg said.

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  2. #2
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    Indeed a concern, but for me the benefits far outweigh the concerns. My work situation at this time, requires that I maintain residences at three widely separated geographic locations around the world. Alexa is a simple, inexpensive way to communicate and maintain a control that I did not have one year ago, with all of them. Turn on and of lights, appliances, heat/ac etc. Alexa and the like , is here to stay.
    The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

  3. #3
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    DrB0b's Avatar
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    Why are people surprised that devices explicitly designed to listen and record are listening and recording?

  4. #4
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    Devices only record when a "wake word", like "Alexa", are spoken..
    Fcuk!! That's the last time that I ask my GF Alexa to suck my dick .....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Indeed a concern,
    I disagree. I think it's of no concern at all and entirely as Amazon says.
    It's not as if there's a tie with the identity of whoever addressed Alexa, and even if there was, the recordings are of commands, not personal information.

    Someone may be concerned if his commands to Alexa were tied to his identity AND his commands were depraved or illegal stuff like, "Alexa, how to make a bomb?" or "Alexa, where is kiddy porn found?".
    I think this article is a beat-up.
    But I'm biased. I love Alexa and encourage improvements to her abilities

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    I disagree. I think it's of no concern at all and entirely as Amazon says.
    It's not as if there's a tie with the identity of whoever addressed Alexa, and even if there was, the recordings are of commands, not personal information.

    Someone may be concerned if his commands to Alexa were tied to his identity AND his commands were depraved or illegal stuff like, "Alexa, how to make a bomb?" or "Alexa, where is kiddy porn found?".
    I think this article is a beat-up.
    But I'm biased. I love Alexa and encourage improvements to her abilities
    News media love to play up the privacy angle. Kind of hypocritical when you consider how intrusive some of them are but it plays well to a segment of their audience.

  7. #7
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    I've never used Alexa, I've never asked Google anything using a voice command and when I last bought a new Samsung phone, the first thing I did was disable the Bixby voice command function.

  8. #8
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    ^ Hey Google, open notes add butter to grocery list.

  9. #9
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    Check out the doc linked below. Not recommended for the paranoid.


    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1808.02741.pdf - "Peek-a-Boo: I see your smart home activities, even encrypted!"

    Abstract—A myriad of IoT devices such as bulbs, switches,speakers in a smart home environment allow users to easily control the physical world around them and facilitate their living styles. However, an attacker inside or near a smarthome environment can potentially exploit the innate wireless medium used by these devices to exfiltrate sensitive information about the users and their activities, invading user privacy. With this in mind, in this work, we introduce a novel multi-stage privacy attack against user privacy in a smart environment. It is realized utilizing state-of-the-art machine-learning approaches for detecting and identifying particular types of IoT devices,their actions, states, and ongoing user activities in a cascading style by only observing passively the wireless traffic from smarthome devices. The attack effectively works on both encrypted and unencrypted communications.

    We evaluate the efficiencyof the attack with real measurements from an extensive setof popular off-the-shelf smart home IoT devices utilizing a setof diverse network protocols like WiFi, ZigBee, and BLE. Ourresults show that an adversary passively sniffing the networktraffic can achieve very high accuracy (above 90%) in identifyingthe state and actions of targeted smart home devices andtheir users. In contrast to earlier straightforward approaches,our multi-stage privacy attack can perform activity detectionand identification automatically, without extensive backgroundknowledge or specifications of analyzed protocols. This allowsan adversary to efficiently aggregate extensive behavior profilesof targeted users.

    To protect against this privacy leakage, wealso propose a countermeasure based on generating spoofednetwork traffic to hide the real activities of the devices. We alsodemonstrate that the provided solution provides better protectionthan existing solutions
    .

  10. #10
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    I bet half of those who declare this an outrage probably don't even know what their router is doing.

    Security is a two way street.

    For a start, Google devices have a "Mic Off" button.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    Call me a Neanderthal , but I'll have none of that in my home.

    Not that they would hear much over the farting and a burping noises

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    I've never used Alexa,
    I actually have Alexa enabled devices in both of my US homes. nearly 24% of all US households have a smart speaker devise, it is expected that 50% of households in the US will have such a device by the end of the year. Given the number of devices installed, it is inevitable that there will be some problems, but given the number of devices the percentage of incidents is negligible.
    I never had a problem! Mostly I use it to remotely control electrical switches and outlets, thermostats, listen to music, and weather , control TV. IMO The worst that could happen if my system was hacked, would be that someone could turn my lights on and off, make me listen to disco, or watch Fox news.
    I like Alexa because it gives me a central place to control everything, but one does not need alexa to control WiFi enabled devices. In our Thai home I have 5 wifi enabled cameras with two way voice communication that are controlled via a stand alone App. Most wifi enabled devices have their own proprietary App, but if you go that way you will need several different apps to operate all your devices.
    The technology is incredible, I am in the US now, I can view everything that happens in our home in Thailand , I like to freak out our dogs by yelling at them when they do something wrong. LOL
    I will instal Alexa in Thailand as soon as I get back if it will work from there.
    Does anyone know if Alexa works in Thailand.
    Screen shot from front balcony Camera, a couple of minutes ago, grass needs cutting.
    Resistance if futile, the technology is the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    The worst that could happen if my system was hacked, would be that someone could turn my lights on and off, make me listen to disco, or watch Fox news.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    I like Alexa because it gives me a central place to control everything
    Yeah, she's very cool. When I was staying with my mate last year in NZ, I would call out, "Alexa, add to shopping list, rum." My mate would get the shopping list updated to his phone. And it is always good to be sitting having a few quiet ones and be able to simply call out, "Alexa, play Ben Harper", and Ben Harper starts singing. Order pizza or an Uber, get the weather, so many little helpful devices.
    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Resistance if futile, the technology is the future.
    Yep. There's no marking time: go forward or be left behind.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maanaam View Post
    Yep. There's no marking time: go forward or be left behind.
    Indeed my friend, "Go Forward or be left behind" going forward can be scary "there be monsters there" but opportunity also.
    So much to unpack in your simple quote!! I have being thinking about it for an Hour now.It is amazing how much can be packed in ten words. One truth remains. forward is the only direction available.

    Sorry TD wont allow me to give you another green rep.

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat Dillinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    The worst that could happen if my system was hacked, would be that someone could turn my lights on and off, make me listen to disco, or watch Fox news.
    No, the worst thing that could happen is your two dogs get poisoned and you get hogtied, arse raped, burgled and murdered by hackers having viewed your logged indoor activity and habits.

    Just saying like

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
    No, the worst thing that could happen is your two dogs get poisoned and you get hogtied, arse raped, burgled and murdered by hackers having viewed your logged indoor activity and habits.

    Just saying like
    Indeed "there be monsters there" the question is would they stop you from going there?
    I get it!
    Make love not war but be prepared for both. I agree!

    Balance

  17. #17
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    I had an Amazon Echo but everything was set to England, ie if you asked it the time it would give you the English time. I had it working with Spotify but gave it away in the end after feeling like a dick talking to a speaker.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
    I had an Amazon Echo but everything was set to England, ie if you asked it the time it would give you the English time. I had it working with Spotify but gave it away in the end after feeling like a dick talking to a speaker.
    you don't mind typing in a computer, what is the difference ? Simply different modes of communication.

    Productivity

  19. #19
    Thailand Expat Dillinger's Avatar
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    ^ So what have you asked Alexa today then, whilst sat there gaining weight?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
    I had it working with Spotify but gave it away in the end after feeling like a dick talking to a speaker.
    Really? I think talking to a speaker and it immediately responding with the music list you want is great. Beats standing up and putting on a CD, beats buying the CD. Spotify is great, and Alexa is a wonderful servant organising and playing it for you.

  21. #21
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    Yesterday I used the a/c remote control to change the temperature in the bedroom, I turned on and off several lights by hand, I manually switched on the kettle and made myself a cup of tea, I used my finger to click on my mouse to play a Youtube video and listen to some music, and I cogitated if it was 2 decades or 3 decades since I last bought butter. It was all really easy. Call me old school if you like, but I really don't need Alexa or the like. Fuck 'em. Each to their own, though. Perhaps when I am old and infirm I will reconsider.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    Yesterday I used the a/c remote control to change the temperature in the bedroom, I turned on and off several lights by hand, I manually switched on the kettle and made myself a cup of tea, I used my finger to click on my mouse to play a Youtube video and listen to some music, and I cogitated if it was 2 decades or 3 decades since I last bought butter. It was all really easy. Call me old school if you like, but I really don't need Alexa or the like. Fuck 'em. Each to their own, though. Perhaps when I am old and infirm I will reconsider.
    Yes but did you adjust the temperature in your house from from work before you got there? or turn the lights on from the other side of the world? Did you ask the man at the door of your Thai home what he want? from 8,478 mi away (distance from NY to Khon Kaen) ? and he though you were asking from inside the house. Did you check to see what your dogs were doing from the other side of the world?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Yes but did you adjust the temperature in your house from from work before you got there?
    No. I turn the bedrom a/c on 10 minutes before going to bed, usually before I take a shower.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    or turn the lights on from the other side of the world?
    55 No. The light switch is a metre away from where I am sitting. I don't need to go the other side of the world just to turn on a light when that light switch is so close to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Did you ask the man at the door of your Thai home what he want?
    Nobody came yesterday or today but if someone comes tomorrow while I'm at home, I'll be able to ask him in person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckaroo Banzai View Post
    Did you check to see what your dogs were doing from the other side of the world?
    I don't have any dogs and I will never get any.

    Alexa obviously works for you, BB, but there is no need for it in my life. As I posted earlier, the future may be different.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    No. I turn the bedrom a/c on 10 minutes before going to bed, usually before I take a shower.


    55 No. The light switch is a metre away from where I am sitting. I don't need to go the other side of the world just to turn on a light when that light switch is so close to me.


    Nobody came yesterday or today but if someone comes tomorrow while I'm at home, I'll be able to ask him in person.


    I don't have any dogs and I will never get any.

    Alexa obviously works for you, BB, but there is no need for it in my life. As I posted earlier, the future may be different.
    It was a rhetorical question to make a point, I realise Alexa is just a tool, and like any other tool it is not always needed by everybody. My original involvement in this thread was to make the point that Alexa is so widely used that the reported problems are statistically insignificant so far . and as a user provide an insider view. By no means am I advocating its use by everybody. For me , in my present situation it is very helpful.
    By the way Alexa is not the only smart speaker system out there, Google Home is another .
    An Echo dot is very inexpensive you can buy one for $ 30 ,perhaps less when on sale. If you have a prime account just the music aspect of it is worth it. plop your ass on a lawn chair, grab a Leo and ask "Alexa Play Neil Young"
    I can't wait until they have alexa enabled Lawn mowers LOL

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dillinger View Post
    ^ So what have you asked Alexa today then, whilst sat there gaining weight?
    What a third of a cup is in fl oz.

    Handy for temperature conversions, too.

    And playing a bit of music while you're cooking.

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