Today, Amazon announced that it is bringing digital assistant Alexa to iOS. Do you use Siri on your iPhone or iPad, OK Google on your Android device, or Alexa on your home devices? These tools offer unparalleled convenience when searching for things online, making purchases, and controlling your other smart devices. However, know that these “passive listening” technologies are always listening to you. It’s critical to consider the implications when using these devices and applications.
For example, last week, during the investigation of an ongoing murder case in Arkansas, Amazon agreed to release recordings from the murder defendant’s Amazon Echo in their home as evidence. The Echo is an electronic personal assistant that uses Google’s voice service Alexa to perform commands for the user. According to law professor Margot Kaminski at Ohio State University who commented on this case, it is unclear whether or not the First Amendment protects speech voluntarily given to a third party.
Be aware that what you say at home and in other supposedly private spaces where devices are present may be accessible to the government. Secure your demonstration and protest planning. Turn off all your devices, and remove them from the area. Do not communicate about documentation or immigration issues on or around phones or digital devices. If you do not want Google or Apple listening to your device when it’s on, turn off Siri and OK Google. Instructions are below.
If you have smartphone and use the Facebook app, Facebook listens to audio to collect information when the app is open. If this is concerning to you, either delete the app or go into your phone settings and revoke Facebook’s access to your phone’s microphone. Instructions for iOS and Android are linked on the blog post.