Lex Cybernetica Podcast – Surveillance

“Unplug your Alexa devices right now, you're being hacked” was the warning Danielle (last name withheld) got when she picked up the phone recently. On the other side was one of her husband's employees, who’d received a recording of the couple’s conversation - “You sat there talking about hardwood floors”. This evil machination was carried out - due to “an extremely rare occurrence”, according to Amazon’s comment to KIRO-TV - by the couple’s aptly named Amazon Echo, a constantly-eavesdropping machine people for some reason welcome into their homes.

A basic couple normie-talking about hardwood floors is unfortunately not criminal as of writing, but murder is. In November 2015, James Andrew Bates hosted a football party at his Arkansas home, which ended with one dead guest in the hot tub. Police investigation found an Amazon Echo in the kitchen, and asked Amazon for any recording which may have occurred during the fatal event. Amazon declined, claiming they hadn’t received “a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us”, but later conceded as Bates, who pleaded not guilty, said he doesn’t object to releasing the files. Arkansas prosecutors later dropped the case.

And don’t get me started on the Interpol’s new international voice identification database.

Technology brings with it exciting, new surveillance methods that we have to deal with. In this episode of Lex Cybernetica, we discuss digital surveillance with Dr. Ilia Siatitsa, Legal Officer at Privacy International, criminologist Prof. Peter Fussey and CSRCL research fellow Amir Cahane, and Lex Cybernetica’s host, Ido Kenan.


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