Just don’t buy that smart speaker

Alexa isn’t eavesdropping on your every conversation, secretly sharing them with whoever it likes, but even if it was there’s an easy way to avoid that. The latest controversy over smart speakers and the Internet of Things comes down to privacy, as is so often the way, with Amazon’s Echo accused of playing impromptu postwoman with a private chat recorded and shared.

Skepticism about the Internet of Things is, in most cases, warranted. Connected devices tend to over-promise and typically under-deliver; the smart home is obsessed with turning on your lights and reading out excerpts of Wikipedia, but often with middling consideration of data privacy and network security. All the same, I can’t help but think some of the reaction this week has tipped over into hyperbole: after all, nobody is forcing you to buy an Echo, or a Google Home, or any other smart speaker out there.

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