This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest
Artisan maker Dick Whitney modifies beautiful antique phones to offer Amazon Echo functionality. His goal with the "Alexaphones" and other creations is to "combine classical design and usability with the most salient elements of your modern world." Unlike other spying smart speakers, Alexaphone only listens when you lift the handset. Absolutely stunning work.
• Secure. Alexa can only hear you when the handset is off the receiver; all of the microphones are physically disconnected otherwise, so you’re not depending on a mute button to be trustworthy.
• Speaker Compatible. Each Alexaphone comes with a 1/8" auxiliary out port, so you can connect it to your home speakers.
• The Lights Of The Future. Status LEDs are carefully made visible in a way unique to each phone, striving for minimal disruption of the original aesthetic. Know when your Alexaphone is connected, listening, and more.
• The Sounds Of The Past. On some phones we’ve been able to preserve or rebuild the antique earpiece electronics, so you’ll hear the original voice of the phone.
• Easy Setup. Just plug in the USB power cable and set up with the Alexa app.
• Uncompromised Experience. These works of art function with your Alexa app and any of Alexa’s skills.
If you buy one of those intrinsically insecure, always-on "smart speakers" from Google, Amazon, Apple or other players, you're installing a constantly listening presence in your home that by design listens to every word you say, and which is very likely to suffer at least one catastrophic breach that allows hackers (possibly low-level dum-dums like the ransomware creeps who took whole hospitals hostage this year, then asked for a mere $300 to give them back because they were such penny-ante grifters) to gain access to millions of these gadgets, along with machine-learning-trained models that will help them pluck blackmail material, credit card numbers, and humiliating disclosures out of the stream of speech they're capturing. Read the rest