Alexa, Get Out

I used to own a pair of Amazon Echo Dots. I greatly enjoyed being able to ask trivia questions, check on the weather, listen to podcasts and movies, and turn appliances on & off without having to touch a keyboard. And what Star Trek fan wouldn’t get a thrill out of saying “Computer!” and getting a prompt response?

star trek computer
pic from Wikimedia Commons

Sad to say, the thrill wore off, and I was better able to contemplate how creepy it is to install a corporate spying device in one’s home. Not only did Alexa compile more data about me every time I spoke to “her,” but by design “she” was listening to me all the time.  I’m sure Jeff Bezos would say that he has no plans to eavesdrop on his customers, but what’s to stop him? And once that microphone is in your bedroom, what’s to stop other players from making use of it? Anything can be hacked.

I put my Echo Dots up for sale on eBay after Amazon Key was unveiled. Now the company wanted to put a camera in my apartment and assume control of the lock on my door. It’ll be convenient, Amazon said. You won’t have to be home to receive your packages. You’ll be able to let friends into your place without going home.

This was an especially startling example of the trade tech companies have encouraged us to make for years: if you give up a little bit of your privacy, we’ll make your life a little more convenient. They’ve convinced us to make this trade so many times by now that Amazon thinks it can get away with asking for the keys to your home.

Sorry, Bezos. To get a key to my home, you’d have to be my live-in girlfriend, and neither one of us would enjoy that in the least.

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