05/10/2017 / By Jayson Veley
While technology makes our lives easier in thousands of different ways, often times we lose sight of the many ways our rights to privacy are infringed upon. Smart TVs have the ability to capture images and audio recordings without our knowledge or consent. Certain GPS devices make it possible for others to know our exact location at all times. Cars can now be hacked by the Central Intelligence Agency for the purpose of carrying out assassinations, as reported Wikileaks earlier this year. As a result, we the people must be more vigilant than ever, or else one-day personal privacy rights may become nonexistent.
Amazon recently announced the release of their newest device the Echo Look, which has the ability to take your picture or record video footage for the purpose of making judgments on outfits. While this seems like a pretty cool feature, experts are warning that people are unaware of exactly how much personal information is being stored and then sent off to Amazon (RELATED: New video details how Amazon.com SPIES on your most private thoughts, fetishes and conversations.)
Professor Peter Swire, who specializes in privacy law at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, said in an interview with Wired, “A lot of consumers see the convenience and don’t think about the long-term records that are being kept.” Another expert, Dr. Susan Liautaud of Stanford University, voiced her concerns over the fact that Amazon does not have a separate private policy for Echo Look. “Amazon doesn’t say anywhere in any kind of clear language what the risks are,” she told Wired. “Risks more generally about what it might accidentally pick up, and the privacy risk.”
Another researcher told Wired that the challenge for companies like Amazon moving forward is to be more transparent with consumers. “If people don’t know what is recorded, or when it is recorded, and what information is recorded, then it brings more anxiety and more questions,” Professor Louis-Philippe Morency of Carnegie Mellon University explained. “The challenge for us moving forward is to be more transparent, to be able to explain better what data is recorded.”
If you take a moment to think about just how much information such a device is capable of collecting, it really is quite striking. Immediately after a user says “Alexa, record a video,” the device gets to work. Within seconds, the Echo Look will have recorded and stored information regarding your facial features, your height, and even the layout of your home. While there may be some options that allow users to prevent some of this information from being captured, at this point it seems as though if you are really concerned about your privacy rights, your best bet is to just not purchase the Echo Look in the first place.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a society that has been completely taken over by “big brother,” an authoritative regime that among other things severely infringed on the privacy rights of citizens. While this novel was obviously fiction, it seems as though America is looking more and more like the society described in Orwell’s book with each passing day.
In the interest of defending our privacy rights, Americans must ask themselves the following question: What do we do now? The simplest answer is to just continue speaking up about our concerns. If we are loud enough and persistent enough, at some point the federal government and corporations like Amazon will have to start listening.
The advancement of technology is something that should never come to an end. That being said, though, it is our responsibility as Americans to find a way for technology to continue to advance, while still maintaining a level of respect for individual privacy rights.