Alexa Delenda Est

If you are foolish enough to have an Amazon Alexa device in your home, I suggest you immediately take the following steps to correct a serious security bug.

  • Turn it off
  • Unplug it from any power/phone/etc interface
  • Take it outside
  • Obtain the largest available hammer (8LB sledge is suitable)
  • Pound the device into its elementary constituent particles

If you hadn’t already been warned off the digital spies, perhaps this will convince you. Because if this report is correct, Amazon is either lying about Alexa, or it has yet another major security bug.

Alexa calls cops on man allegedly beating his girlfriend
A New Mexico man was arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her — after Amazon’s Alexa called police, authorities said.
[…]
During the assault, Barros waved a gun and threatened to kill the woman before he allegedly asked: “Did you call the sheriffs?”

The question was inadvertently picked up by the smart speaker and the voice-powered virtual assistant recognized the phrase as a command — prompting it to call 911

Is it good that the woman was saved? Sure. But how did that happen?

First off, there doesn’t ever seem to have been an Alexa “attention word” spoken. I looked at several reports on this; none mention the trigger word being used. So the system apparently listens to everything… and just happens to interpret a question about the sheriff as a command to dial 911.

Second, according to Amazon, calling 911 is impossible.

Note: Alexa Calling does not support calls to the following types of numbers:

  • Emergency service numbers (for example “911”)

So… Alexa, without prompting, interprets a question as an order to place an impossible call, and does it.

Right.

Let’s consider another possible scenario. One of the thousands of Amazon workers listening to Alexa conversations hears the domestic incident, because the microphone is always active. Well-intentioned employee looks up the owner data, gets the phone number and location, and places a 911 call for her.

Don’t you feel safer knowing someone is always watching over you?

Now imagine some busybody overhears a conversation about guns, decides you’re planning a shooting, and SWATs you.

Or maybe the baby pictures you and you spouse are discussing might be child porn. Another call.

Perhaps you decided to cancel your Amazon Prime, and instead of programming Alexa to call you a “shithead”, they decide to SWAT you for that.

Or you were watching a movie or newscast with a domestic violence scene.

More innocuously, Alexa might start placing long distance calls on its own, running up your phone bill.

The best case is that the Alexa system is so buggy as to be physically dangerous.

The worst case? Consider Alexa’s alleged left-wing bias, and think about it — or those listeners — acting on it. Do you own guns? Vote conservatively? Oppose abortion?

No rights were violated in the making of this travesty of justice.

So sayeth the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Because we find no violation of a clearly established right, we need not reach the other qualified immunity question of whether a constitutional violation occurred in the first place.

That’s the money quote. But let me tell you what it is in reference to.

From the “Factual Background” of this ruling we learn that

  • Cops were after a perp.
  • Perp entered someone else’s property.
  • Cops followed.
  • Cops put one adult and six children — all innocent bystanders, as the Court notes — on the ground at gunpoint, and cuffed the adult bystander for no reason.
  • Perp was in custody.
  • Dog came out, and was in no way perceived as a threat; not even by the cops.
  • So one cop — Coffee County Deputy Michael Vickers — shot at the dog, and missed.
  • Dog hid under the house.
  • Dog came back out, and still everyone agrees it was not a threat.
  • So Coffee County Deputy Michael Vickers shot at the dog again. And missed again.
  • Excuse me; he missed the dog. He shot a ten year-old boy, who was only 18 inches away from him.

You might think that using unnecessary force would taint the cop’s defense. You might think that negligently shooting a kid just inches away from him would be a bad thing. You could even wonder about the Coffee County Sheriffs Office marksmanship training. No prob, says the 11th Circuit.

We don’t even have to worry about any of that because shooting innocent children is “no violation of a clearly established right.” Qualified Immunity!

Well now. That certainly clears the way for post-birth abortions.

If you must be in Coffee County, Georgia, be on the lookout for this psychopath.

Reportedly, Vickers has an extensive history of violating rights um… excessive force ah… acting firmly and shooting at dogs. Protect yourself appropriately.

Cops and courts really need to consider the ramifications of their acts should hunting season ensue.

Know your opponents

Here’s a little test. Without resorting to a search engine, can you tell who said:

  • “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.”
  • “You can’t talk about, much less take, bombs and guns onto airplanes.Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted.”
  • “believes in no unsupervised youth access to guns, period.”
  • “every firearm should have a guardian who knows where it is and keeps it safely stored.”
  • “we support mandatory penalties for juvenile criminals caught carrying guns.”
  • “if violent juvenile felons get a second chance at going straight, they should never get a second chance at owning a gun.”
  • “We support restoring full and perpetual funding for the National Instant Check System, which was the product of [our] determined effort.”
  • “we advocate that records of court-declared mental incompetents be unsealed and made available to the instant check system.”
  • “We will consider instant checks at gun show”

Answer

Were you right?

Remedial Practical Civics 100, Lesson 7: Declaration of Independence 4 Dummies

Lesson 1: Sausage-Making

Lesson 2: The Constitution. You may have heard that word.

Lesson 3: Let’s Party!

Lesson 4: “A Hunting We Will go”

Lesson 5: “Voting for Dummies Democrats”

Lesson 6: Supplementary Reading: Remedial Journalism 100


Declaration of Independence 4 Dummies

The preamble to to the Constitution says:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And what did the founders see as the “Blessings of Liberty”?

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Unanimous. We all agreed to it. None of this “rule by 50.00001%” stuff. Continue reading

@RepWilson: Challenge Accepted

Florida Congressmoron Frederica Wilson has an interesting take on free speech.

Noted Hat Fetishist Rep. Frederica Wilson Goes on Bizarre Rant, Calls to Jail People Who Make Fun of Congress
“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable,” Wilson said during a press conference. “We are going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.”

Clearly this Village Idiot was elected by people who saw she’d be on SSI for mental retardation anyway, and figured they’d put her on public display for the nation’s entertainment. It worked. Continue reading

Your Laugh of the Day: Bullet Control

Covering Second Amendment rights can be grim at times. Fortunately, some gun controllers are determined to brighten my day. Today’s laugh comes from Valdosta, Georgia.

RANSOM: Controlling bullets
Without bullets, there would be no need for gun control. We have a constitutional right to own guns. The NRA will fight for our right to own guns, but we do not have the right to own bombs, which is what bullets are. The explosive in a bullet is the same as the explosive in a bomb. Just a smaller amount. Bombs are under tight control. Bombs can be purchased, but not without the proper credentials. We as American citizens have the right to bare [sic] arms, but nothing in the Constitution gives us the right to have a bomb or bullets.

If bullets are bombs, I want to know where Mr. Ransom is shopping. Can you get those at Walmart, or do I need to check Amazon? Continue reading