Amazon Echo Dot.

Mike Wingate

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We have received an Amazon Echo Dot as a present. What sensible things should we do with it. One daughter is becoming hysterical with fear of privacy invasion. She is threatening to leave home, having escaped from London yesterday before tier 4 came into operation.
1. Leave in box.
2. Return to Amazon.
3. Ask SIRI.
4.....
 

exakta

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-- It's good for making phone calls when you aren't near your phone.

-- It can replace a clock radio.

-- It can control an Android "smart" TV.

After that, it's utility depends on how many "smart" peripherals you feel like buying. Light bulbs, thermostats, etc. I see it's biggest utility being for people with limited mobility.
 

Brownie

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I would not use it in my house.
I would not use it with my spouse.
I would not use it...too much risk,
though it looks like an innoc'uos disk.
I want no eavesdrops in my home.
Just toss it out, be left alone!
 

Keeth101

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I totally agree with you, Mike, I would not want it in my house.

I'm quite happy buying from Amazon, when I can't get things locally (Most things nowadays), but -

Whatever you decide, do not unbox it, do not turn it on, do not try it, do not be tempted by the evil ways of Amazons data collection ...... just get shut of it!
 

Reflector

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Amazon and several of the other big tech companies got caught out on a lie a while back about how the voice recognition thing works. In general most people expect them, only to start streaming the audio after the device picks up on the activation keyboard to send anything to the datacenter.

It turns out that some implementations have the microphone always sending an audio stream to the datacenter where all detected parts of human speech are archived forever. Of course there's some excuses about how these things are "dumb" on the device end and that they pick up some noise that looks like the activation phrase and just continue to record and record until they hear the right words and interpret it but that only goes so far to excuse them. Since that isn't enough trampling on privacy, the parts where the speech recognition is a bit iffy on due to accents or such gets sent to some office where human intervention is used to help refine the algorithm on their end. That part gets tacked on since there's a general claim that "no human listens to the audio, it just works off text to speech and the algorithm at the datacenter (cloud)!" is out there too for the privacy invaders to justify sticking their foot into the door.

Then there's the thing about smartphones and how having them in a conversation causes advertisements to trigger a hour or few later about some item or item type brought up in a conversation even if they're not supposed to be streaming audio or anything.

telescreen.jpg

A bit too invasive and creepy for me, personally.
 
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WhidbeyLVR

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If you are afraid of an echo dot, you should be absolutely terrified of the capabilities of your smart phone to reveal your personal info. It has microphone, nearly 360-degree video, GPS, wireless cell as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC. And Siri, and/or Alexa, and/or Google Assistant. And whatever hacks cyber criminals or state sponsored hackers have been able to worm into the device. It probably has your credit card and banking info on it, too. And if you think you can trust it to not look or listen, you are fooling yourself.

Ditto laptops and tablets, but without the 4g or 5g link.
 

Brownie

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If you are afraid of an echo dot, you should be absolutely terrified of the capabilities of your smart phone to reveal your personal info. It has microphone, nearly 360-degree video, GPS, wireless cell as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC. And Siri, and/or Alexa, and/or Google Assistant. And whatever hacks cyber criminals or state sponsored hackers have been able to worm into the device. It probably has your credit card and banking info on it, too. And if you think you can trust it to not look or listen, you are fooling yourself.

Ditto laptops and tablets, but without the 4g or 5g link.
Not to mention smart TV's, which is why I haven't upgraded.
 

RevBob

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I've had one for years now. I connected it to a quality Bluetooth speaker and I stream music on it. Added half a dozen smart plugs. I can turn the Christmas tree on and off and set routines to turn on various lights. Voice commands are handy. We also have Alexa built in to our Facebook Portal. If our privacy has been invaded it hasn't affected us so far.
 

RichardC

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If you are afraid of an echo dot, you should be absolutely terrified of the capabilities of your smart phone to reveal your personal info. It has microphone, nearly 360-degree video, GPS, wireless cell as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC. And Siri, and/or Alexa, and/or Google Assistant. And whatever hacks cyber criminals or state sponsored hackers have been able to worm into the device. It probably has your credit card and banking info on it, too. And if you think you can trust it to not look or listen, you are fooling yourself.

Ditto laptops and tablets, but without the 4g or 5g link.

I've heard that you can get pneumonic plague and ebola from 5G aerials. It must be true. It's on Twitter.
 

Toddster

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And now there is this (in the US at least):

A new feature is launching on your Echo device: Amazon Sidewalk.

Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. For example, if your device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router and help set up new Echo devices. Sidewalk can also extend the coverage for Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights and pet and object trackers, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances.

When enabled, Sidewalk uses a small portion of your Internet bandwidth to provide these services to you and your neighbors. This setting will apply to all of your supported Echo and Ring devices that are linked to your Amazon account.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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In related news, Apple is introducing a requirement on developers for more transparency with their apps in regard to user privacy. Basically, they are required to provide a "nutrition label" for thier app when it comes to what data it collects and shares, along with what phone features it uses (camera, mic, location, etc). They have met heavy resistance from Facebook, if that tells you anything. While I question how altruistic Apple is being with their privacy stance, it's certainly better than nothing, and I don't think Google and Amazon share this position. They are very dependent on user data, for reasons they aren't very transparent about.

Side note on an Amazon rant. My wife is routinely annoyed by Amazon's search results, like when she searches for an old, well-written children's book, only to be greeted by poorly written garbage about a farting dog as the first search result.

We got an Alexa as a gift a few years ago, and it didn't last a week before it was banished. There's a reason they are so cheap and even given away. Amazon wants to move in.
 

RichardC

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Side note on an Amazon rant. My wife is routinely annoyed by Amazon's search results, like when she searches for an old, well-written children's book, only to be greeted by poorly written garbage about a farting dog as the first search result.

How do I find the farting dog story?

Asking for a friend.
 

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