Topping the Electronic Frontier Foundation's don't-buy for Christmas list: Facebook's Portal in-home spycams, followed closely by Alexa/Google Home and other "home hubs"; Verizon's "AppFlash" spyware-equipped phones; and even the Elf on the Shelf gets a look in (normalizes surveillance!).
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Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks for proposals for exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM; in 2015, the Electronic Frontier Foundation won a broad "jailbreaking" exemption to modify the firmware of phones and tablets; this year, we're asking for that permission to be extended to smart speakers like Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePods, and the smaller players in the market.
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With the price tag at just $29, it's pretty safe to assume many people got Google Home Mini as gifts this holiday season. The always-listening, voice-activated "smart speakers" are just waiting for a command. That command starts with either "Ok Google" or "Hey Google."
It's easy enough for most of us to operate but what about for non-native English speakers? What about for people who don't keep up with the latest technology?
For Redditor Ben Actis' thick-accented octogenarian grandmother, it was a matter of barking "Hey Googoo," and excessively tapping on it. At one point, she actually gets it to tell her the weather and Google Assistant's female voice scares her a little. Read the rest
Anonymous sources quoted in the New York Times and elsewhere today said Google will introduce a competitor to Amazon's Echo on Wednesday. Its long-anticipated entry into the voice-activated home device market is said to be named Google Home. Read the rest