Apathetic Americans, the CIA, and the Surveillance State

You may remember that earlier this March, Wikileaks released their latest cache of government documents, called Vault 7. There were many revelations that came out of the release, which I covered here.

One of the leaks from Vault 7 had to do with the CIA and the Amazon Echo, the popular voice activated home and personal assistant. Wikileaks discovered that the CIA is capable of independently taking over the microphone feature of the Echo to listen and record your conversations. Even more creepy is that the CIA has also developed a “fake off” setting to allow them to spy on you even while you think your device is off.

Many of the more skeptical among us were already wary of devices like the Amazon Echo. While technologically advanced and potentially very useful, Amazon’s Echo and similar devices, which utilize the Alexa voice assistant, amount to little more than a giant, active microphone in your house. What the Vault 7 release proved is that the CIA is both willing and capable to manipulate consumer technology to engage in mass warrantless spying.

Fast forward four months to July 11th. It’s Amazon Prime Day, an annual cyber-shopping day where Amazon lowers prices on thousands of items site wide.

Care to take a guess as to the bestselling items on Amazon Prime Day? According to The Street, the top three items sold were: the Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot (a smaller version of the Echo), and the Fire 7 Tablet (which has built-in Alexa capabilities). Over 12% of American households currently have an Echo device.

Not even four months after Wikileaks released classified documents proving that the CIA can access, listen, and record your private conversations through the Amazon Echo, the top three bestselling items on Amazon Prime Day were all equipped with Echo technology.

The collective apathy of the American public toward their 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable, warrantless spying is disheartening, to say the least. We know that the government has been collecting massive amounts of cell phone data and now they are using devices like the Amazon Echo, Samsung TV’s, and others  to undermine individual privacy and erode the 4th Amendment.