If you got a new Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas, consider turning it off. Chances are you got the device as a gift, opened it immediately, and got to work asking about the weather, movie facts, and told it to sing a song. If you’re like me, chances are you then sat the device on a shelf and forgot about it. It’s probably still powered up and listening to you right now.
It’s easy to forget that a friendly Home Assistant device is turned on and listening for keywords. We’ve become so accustomed to the idea that we’re being tracked and listened to that it’s hard to see the raindrops for the storm. Especially in the madness that is the gift giving holiday season, even in this very strange point in history that is the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday gift getting and forgetting remains a very real issue for some – including me.
SEE TOO: Amazon has a creepiness problem
This afternoon, I took a few minutes out of my day to readdress all of the electronics I have in my living space. Not just the gifts recently gotten, but the old machines too. What am I using? What’s using power? Do I really need to allow my Apple HomePod or my Google Nest device stay active at all times?
Remember that recorded clips aren’t always private. This situation hasn’t changed significantly just because we’ve not done any major reports recently. These devices are listening, the data is being processed – it’s still a very real, live, active situation.
But maybe that’s what you want. There are very good reasons for a device like an Echo Dot to listen in on your aging relatives. But they’re still watching, they’re still using data you provide the company that made your device – for free.
So long as the device you’ve got active in your room has access to the internet, there’s a chance the device is able to use its sensors, microphones, and/or cameras to share parts of your life that you’d most likely not want shared. So long as these devices have power, the potential for privacy invasion still exists.