Hey, Siri And Alexa: Let’s Talk Privacy Practices

by Elizabeth Weise, USA Today

ETC@USC/Creative Commons

ETC@USC/Creative Commons

A growing throng of Americans revel in being able to call out “What’s the weather?” to their Amazon Echo or “Is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ on?” to their Samsung SmartTV and get the immediate answers.

But these first forays into a world where digital servants always listen for our commands raise red flags for privacy and security experts, who see too many ways it could all go horribly wrong.

“In our homes, there are all sorts of conversations that are going on and are meant to be personal and private,” said Lynn Terwoerds, executive director of the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security and Risk Management.

On Wednesday, she and others launched the Voice Privacy Industry Group at the RSA computer security conference. Their goal is to set a voice privacy agenda for developers “early on, when they’re starting to think about it, not later when they have to patch something that’s fundamentally broken,” she said.

Most voice-command devices listen for a “wake word” that tells them to start paying attention, such as “Alexa!” or “Hey, Siri.” Simple commands can be processed on the device while more complex requests are uploaded via wireless to the cloud where they’re translated into text the program can understand and act upon.

Continue reading on USA Today » The website also has a related article, “3 Gadgets That Are Always Listening And How To Stop Them”

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