Here’s Why Lawyers Are Warning Homebound Employees To Turn Off Smart Speakers

(Tea Party 247) – While many American workers have been able to continue their employment from home so as to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, lawyers are now warning that this could present a whole host of new problems.

Of course, anyone who has been paying attention to the dangerous implications of smart technology will not be very surprised.

The New American reports that employers are concerned that smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, which by design always listen in on their users, could now be privy to confidential corporate intelligence.

This is why they are warning their employees shut these devices off while working from home.

On Tuesday, ZDNet published an article titled “Working from home? Switch off Amazon’s Alexa (say lawyers),” in which Chris Matyszczyk wrote:

Some professionals may not be so able to deal with life sans their office perks. Lawyers, for example.

Many are used to sitting in their enclosed chambers, closing their doors and holding vital conversations about lawyerly matters. There, they feel secure.

Working in their homes, they worry who may be spying on them. Alexa, for example, and her band of vastly intelligent speakerpersons.

The report points to a law firm in the UK, Mishcon de Reya, which has requested its employees mute or completely disable their smart speakers for confidential business calls.

Joe Hancock, the managing partner who is head of cybersecurity at the firm, said, “Perhaps we’re being slightly paranoid, but we need to have a lot of trust in these organizations and these devices. We’d rather not take those risks.”

“Paranoid” is far from appropriate. This is common sense. As mentioned, smart devices, by design, listen to every word you speak. At best, so as to heed your every command, at worst, well…you can only imagine.

In 2018, The New American reported:

Last week, a Portland, Oregon, family was having a private conversation in their Echo-equipped home. Among other things, they discussed hardwood flooring. Later, the man received a call from an employee of his who lives in Seattle, more than 170 miles away. The employee told him he had received a message with the audio of the conversation.

As KIRO 7 in Seattle reported, the couple initially did not believe him. The woman — who only went by Danielle in the interview to protect her privacy — said, “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.’

This family had an Echo in every room of their home, including the bedroom. After this disturbing incident, the wife disconnected every speaker in the house and boxed them up.

But how many more people keep them in their home?

The New American continues:

Flash forward nearly two years and with employees working from home for the foreseeable future, at least one law firm is cognizant of the fact that confidentiality and devices such as the Echo are mutually exclusive. And while the ZDNet article does not mention the Oregon family and their awakening moment, it does state, “There’s the recent research that revealed Alexa and her squad accidentally activate and record conversations up to 19 times a day.”

And while the issue bringing all of this to the forefront this time is the confidentiality between lawyers and their clients, ask yourself, “Is my privacy less important than theirs?” Of course not. Admittedly, it is convenient to have Alexa set your thermostat, search for and play your favorite song, or answer your trivial question about which actress played with which actor in which movie. It may even score high in “cool points”! But that said, having the infernal thing erroneously activate and capture your private conversations should be a bridge too far for anyone who understands the value of privacy. Think back through the day: What have you said or done today that would make you uncomfortable if it had been recorded and played back to someone else later? Perhaps there were things that would not merely make you uncomfortable, but would — in fact — make you want to change your name and move away to a place where no one knows you. Just do yourself a favor and don’t ask Alexa, Google Home, or any other “Smart Speaker” for steps on how to do that.

In fact, follow the advice these lawyers are giving to their employees: Turn it off. Then, go a step further and never turn it back on.

12 COMMENTS

  1. STAY AT HOME & WORK AT HOME USA

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  2. Put the beast in a metal cooking pot, with a tight fitting lid. The oven should do just as well. Muffle computer microphones with a tight fitting piece of foam rubber, tape over the cameras. Smart phones, if they are not in immediate use, put it in a pot as well. These are in fact, like Faraday Cages, nothing in, and nothing out. Be safe folks. By the way, if away from home, confiscate, or lock up the kids phones, or cover the camera and microphone as well. It is flatly easy to track a phone, or computer location. Cell phones identify themselves through the day, by Federal law. Face book is as safe for kids as letting them roam the streets as they please from people who would do them harm.

  3. Facebook is just as bad because every time you write something Zuckerberg and his crew scrutinize everything you write. If they don’t like what you put on there you get banned for a month

    • Moron. Apple smart devices are the least likely to violate your privacy. Amazon and Google, in that order.

  4. my best friend’s ex-wife makes $89 hourly on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her payment was $15984 just working on the computer for a few hours. This Site

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  5. Besides the First and Second Amendments, the Fourth Amendment is now probably the single most violated amendment in the Bill of Rights! The Privacy Act of 1974 no longer has any validity, because no individual anywhere has any personal privacy any more! The companion Freedom of Information Act of 1974, designed to persuade the government not to hide it’s conduct of the people’s business from the people, needs to be renamed the FREEDOM TO WITHHOLD/DENY INFORMATION ACT of whenever! The government doesn’t HAVE to tell the people anything any more!

    • The 4th Amendment only applies to the government doing this aspect. Alexa, Goggle an Echo are by private enterprise they are not bound by the 4th. Also you gave them permission to do it by purchasing the Item an installing it in your house.

  6. Growing up in the era where mere face to face conversations were in vogue this issue never arose. Kids in the room and you desire privacy – send them outside of to another part of the house. Tell “Clara”, the operator to get off the line, and when the switchboard went by the way, dialing the desired party became resolute.

    That was also a time when everybody (and today most still do) opened the refrigerator, answered the phone and did most things they ask electronic to do, MANUALLY. These electronic commanders are an invasion of of our personal being and a valid example of Orwellian life!

  7. Knowing Google, and the rest of the neo-commies in Silicon Valley are working hard to create enabling mechanisms for the coming socialist police state, why would anyone keep Alexa or any of these other Google-spies in their house?

  8. Well said a year ago when I first heard or saw these things I said the same thing, who in their right mind would want these things recording everything you say in your own home? NO-ONE .. in their right mind.
    YES true them OFF and never turn them back on.

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