A toot's got me wondering about the nature of consent in a specific way; I won't ever have an Alexa or anything like it, and maybe you won't either; but other people will.

And now I'm thinking, if you have one of these lumps of spyware in your home, should you be *required* to offer a formal warning to any visitors? I think so; you're required to place CCTV warnings if you run CCTV, and if anything systems like Alexa are more invasive, not less.

The data from a CCTV system might never leave the premises; the data from these "assistants" goes **directly** to servers outside either your *or* your host's control, where your voice may be datamined for any damned purpose the server owners choose.

Don't feel bad about saying "I don't wanna come over, you've got an Alexa running." It's not paranoia to be creeped out by AIs (or persons) unknown listening to your private conversations. It's *normal*. You don't *need* anything to "hide" for you desire not to *share* to be valid.

@Ephaemera Look at what happened to Google Glass and Glassholes.

We need a sick burn for Spy Speakers, like "Glassholes" was.

Personally I think Robert Scoble singlehandedly killed Glass.

CW: Naked glasshole

@Ephaemera paranoia is only paranoia when its without basis in reality. Today, reality has lots of microphones.

@Ephaemera The bigger question for me is, what will you do when your work place uses Google Glasses and spyware assistants?

Because that is how invasive technology gets normalized. At first it will be deployed in situations where people don't have the option of rejecting it and keeps going up the scale of privilege till it becomes the new normal in society.

@njoseph @Ephaemera It's harder, but there are still the options of going on strike in order to ban them, of refusing to enter meeting rooms in which they are present, or quiting your job. If you occupy a necessary position it might work, but I understand it won't for most people.

@Ephaemera meanwhile, here, hidden cctvs on every mall and big shop without any requirements or concerns about privacy beyond don't record bathrooms and dressers

@Ephaemera i would consider it polite to offer to turn it off for some folks, even

@Ephaemera what about iphones with “hey siri” enabled. they’re basically mobile alexas that could be anywhere recording anything

@zensaiyuki Yeah, I mentioned elsewhere in the thread that they basically present the same damned issue and they're effectively everywhere. :(

@Ephaemera it does present a very interesting question: at what point do you accept mass surveillance has won, and institute winston protocol

@zensaiyuki I mean at any point in public, you're on mic. The only space you have any hope of any kind of privacy is your own home, assuming you can trust people to shut off their assistants when they visit. Or you accept that you're "in public" during those times.

*But*, there's a potential option here that doesn't (legally) exist with radiotech; jamming. Microphones usually pickup *much* higher frequencies than human and potentially animal ears do; Produce (several) multiple tones in that range that heterodyne into lower harmonics when picked up by mics, and hopefully you have a biologically inaudible jammer that screams all over microphones; bonus side-effect, you jam audio beacon "cookies". An obvious downside is you have to turn it off for *anyone* in the AoE to make phone calls.

@Ephaemera i’m fairly suspicious of those kinds of strategies. when rubber hits the road, authorities usually assume the person wearing facial recognition thwarting makeup has something to hide

@Ephaemera in the past, this sort of problem was worked around with code languages designed to sound like benign smalltalk- like polari. the network requires a high level of trust though. high stakes if someone gives the feds the codebook

@zensaiyuki There's two sides to that; on the one hand, is just "Yeah." On the other, is "Remember cypherpunks?" They were the folks who PGP-encrypted all their emails, back waaaay before it was cool, on the principle that if you *always* encrypt, then the fact you're using encryption *at any given moment* isn't a piece of SIGINT itself.

But there's also the obvious issue that if people *did* wander around audio-jamming regularly, you've got phone/assistant makers incentivised to create countermeasures, you've got lawmakers incentivised *by* Big Tech to make up safety bullshit excuses to criminalise it, and potentially even before that, you *may* have individual enforcement officers using detection and triangulation software,as you say, to nab you "on suspicion."

So overall, the best option seems to be to *have* a device in case you really need it at some point, but not use or perhaps even carry it otherwise.


@Ephaemera oh yes I have seen those. when I mention them though people react like I’m a tinfoil hat wearing lunatic. but it’s fairly well documented that facebook keeps a hot mic on phones with the app on it. they promise they’re only listening for ultrasonic fingerprints (only!) but nothing stops them from just recording conversations too.

@zensaiyuki People are very attached to their fluffy denial blankets. The truths are awful, and multitudinous, and the lies are so enticing.

@Ephaemera besides, tinfoil hats are fairly ineffective anyhow. you really want more of a faraday cage shaped hat if you want any hope of blocking radio frequencies from reaching your fillings. or honestly, they do have composite fillings now.
with microdots probably.

@zensaiyuki Some folks - at a Uni, maybe - ran some tests, and tinfoil hats can actually *amplify* radio waves inside your cranium! XD
But yeah, a powerline worker's faraday suit should have you ... covered.

@Ephaemera @zensaiyuki I needed an explanation of how to jamb cell phones for a scene in a novel I'm writing. Thanks!

@ewankeep @zensaiyuki
So long as you appreciate the mechanics; it won't jam *the phone*, it'll just make the mic pick up hideous screeching. It *might* feed back through the noise cancellation, but it may only make it impossible for the party near the audio jammer to be heard. Texting would still work just fine.

@Ephaemera my dad has an alexa and when i came over to his house and found out i'd been sitting and talking in hearing range of the little bastard for a - full day - before he mentioned it i felt so damn betrayed and creeped out. good post

@photophoregirl Ewww I'm **so** sorry, that's rotten. Like, I get, not intentionally rotten, but bloody hell, privacy **in private** would be nice.

@Ephaemera You shouldn't have to "formally" post notice that you have a smart speaker. This is counterbalanced by any guest's ability to talk to it and mess shit up. "OK Alexa, play smooth jazz"

@Ephaemera Stallman tells a story that when he visited a friend’s house once and they had Alexa in it, he immediately unplugged it straight from the socket :-)

@Ephaemera a good way to "temporarily silence" a alexa/google home, is by putting it Inside the refrigerator. It cant hear you from in there (unless you open the fridge)
@Ephaemera in the US no one is required to disclose if they have CCTV or any kinds of surveillance
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Radical Town

A cool and chill place for cool and chill people.