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Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped (zdnet.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: Since announcing how many government data requests and wiretap orders it receives, Amazon has so far issued two transparency reports. The two reports outline how many subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders the company received to cloud service, Amazon Web Services. The cloud makes up a large portion of all the data Amazon gathers, but the company does also collect vast amounts of data from its retail businesses, mobile services, book purchases, and requests made to Echo. The company's third report is due to be released in a few weeks but an Amazon spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether or not the company will expand its transparency report to include information regarding whether or not the Amazon Echo has been wiretapped. There are reportedly more than three million Amazon Echo speakers out in the wild. Gizmodo filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with the FBI earlier this year to see if the agency had wiretapped an Echo as part of a criminal investigation. The FBI didn't confirm or deny wiretapping the Echo. Amazon was recently awarded a patent for drone docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples.
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Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped

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  • It has (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UndyingShadow ( 867720 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:13AM (#52545841)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:22AM (#52545859)

    Ok what the hell's going on lately with a news stories ending with a single sentence talking about a topic completely unrelated to the rest of the post?

    Can a story be moderated off topic to itself?

    • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:26AM (#52545867)

      You will find that each instance is edited by BeauHD. It's his "shtick". But I agree it's more often than not irrelevant and annoying.

    • Also.. what does Echo being wiretapped (or not) have to do with a Samsung phone being watertight?
    • the Zdnet link (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The ZDNET link takes me to an article about the Samsung phones warerproofing.

      We have a Reddit business model here. Troll headlines, people who don't read the article, commenting and people keep coming back - it's all about generating advertising revenue, boys!

      Infotainment is what media is about. Makes makes me want to throw every goddamn peice of electronic shit in my house out the door.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @08:11AM (#52546537)

      Much of our interpretation of the news is based on emotion.
      So a story about how Amazon is doing something scary to us. Is then quickly followed up by them doing something good or neutral, taints that story's tone, and makes it seem more worrisome.

      We seem to forget that Organizations/Governments (especially large ones) do a lot of things with many different motives and sometimes they will do things that contradict itself. Because so much is going on there are many units running independent with each other, thus causing such confusion. Rarely do we have the Evil Corporation but sub units in such corporation doing bad things, while others are doing wonderful things. Granted such companies should have ways to stop the bad things from happening, and more often than not they will turn a blind eye, or reward them for hacking their metrics for success, encouraging such bad behavior. But for most of these things, there isn't Mr. Evil running everything with a devious purpose, but a bunch of people who are for the most part good, having to cut a corner or compromise to keep their jobs then it all adds up.

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      It's got to be some stupid script "helping" the editors.

      Imagine you were serving content-contextual ads. You could show an Amazon ad here. So some idiot figured "if it's close enough for the advertising department, then it's close enough for the editorial department." The problem is that they never tested it, and nobody at Slashdot actually reads Slashdot so they're unaware how ridiculous it looks.

      Let this be a lesson, folks: if you don't eat your own dog food, then you have to test your dog food in the lab

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @03:32AM (#52545873)

    "Echo" is just one of the more obvious ways to do so. Smartphones, laptop-microphones, etc. are all fair game these days, because most citizens are asleep at the wheel.

  • There are reportedly more than three million Amazon Echo microphones out in the wild.

    Fixed for relevance.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wiretapped implies warrants and due process.

    Echo listens in and sends all that data to Amazon, Amazon EULA for Echo makes you agree to sending your audio, including audio before the wake word, up to their cloud. None of that requires anything like a wiretap warrant. It would only require a request to Amazon, perhaps some form of compensation for their trouble.

    This is not limited to Amazon. Your smartphone has a mass of apps that request access to the microphone and video and several advertisers are paying a

    • It's a shit world, created by corporate lobbying and an undermining of the basic human rights.

      The good news is that everything is changing all the time.
      This surveillance world we live in is a phase we are going through.
      It will end, one way or another.
      The bummer is that we are the ones living in it now...

  • easy answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @04:27AM (#52545969)
    "Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped " that means they were told to not say it has been and they decided to not lie. There is no reason whatsoever to not tell they were not wiretaped.
    • Two words: Plausible Deniability.

      Now admittedly, I cannot think how that might benefit Amazon. But it could be a reason.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @06:01AM (#52546155)

    ... you're an idiot, you're willingly giving up your right to privacy inside your house, and you simply deserve to be wiretapped. Any internet-connected device could be "wiretapped", but in this case we are talking about something whose only and explicit purpose is to listen to what happens inside your house and send everything to "the cloud" (i.e., somebody else that can do whatever it wants with it), without the user being able to set up any sort of security measures. That's purely idiotic self wiretapping, not government wiretapping. No sympathy for amazon echo users, sorry.

    • Any internet-connected device could be "wiretapped", but in this case we are talking about something whose only and explicit purpose is to listen to what happens inside your house and send everything to "the cloud"

      Isn't the main explicit point to sell you more and more shit so easily you don't realise you're buying it? The massive data uptake for the alphabet gangs to rife through is just a happy bonus.

    • Actually, its purpose is to listen for a wake word, then send the next sentence to the cloud for processing.

      For someone concerned about wiretapping, it would make sense to monitor outbound data use by the echo. Spikes caused by wiretapping should be obvious since it does not normally transmit everything it hears.

    • All my Echo will hear is me occasionally baby talking my cat. I suppose it can also hear what I'm watching on TV...but I'm pretty sure netflix/amazon/hbo-go/Roku are already tracking that. They're already gathering much more informative information by tracking my internet habits.
    • The voice recognition of the Echo doesn't work at all for me.

      If they could have a human being listening on the other end, that would be a huge upgrade for me.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @06:07AM (#52546171) Journal
    Just like everything else than can be.
  • by ai4px ( 1244212 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @06:49AM (#52546263)
    All party members were expected to purchase the telescreen device and never switch it off so the party could monitor them. The telescreen could be dimmed but never turned off.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe how many whine about privacy and install a open mic into their household. Can you imagine the FBI coming to your door and asking you to install a mic in your house? Yet idiot Amazon customers see the Echo as such a neat device. Dumb consumers is all I can say.

  • Since the link in the summary goes to an unrelated article, you might want this instead: http://www.zdnet.com/article/a... [zdnet.com]
  • by pem ( 1013437 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @09:46AM (#52546929)

    Yes, kids, you too can try this at home.

    Actual transcription from a "conversation" between me and Alexa:

    "Alexa, do you work for the CIA?"
    "Hmmm. I can't find the answer to the question I heard."
    "Alexa, do you work for the FBI?"
    "No, I'm not employed by them. I'm made by Amazon."
    "Alexa, do you work for the NSA?"
    (no voice -- descending 5th musical tone)

  • I don't want your fucking unrelated blurbs at the end of the goddamned story. Quit being a clickbait fucking site, Slashdot.

    Whipslash, start paying attention to the bullshit your idiot editors are doing - they're one of the primary reasons we write exploit code for this site and continue to do so TO THIS DAY.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2016 @10:33AM (#52547215)

    That's like if your friend asks you if you think he should go out with some girl you know, and you say, "You're both friends of mine and I don't want to say anything bad about anyone." You've answered his question by not answering it.

    Whether Amazon says so or not, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Echo has been tapped. These days I'd be more surprised if it hadn't been. Think about it- the opportunity to eavesdrop on millions of people, with Amazon providing the hardware. What's not to like about that?

  • Hey, slashdot, learn to split two topics into two articles.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.