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?

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

[UpdateS] Gun control is crazy

I’ve been reading more about “Doctor” McCarthy. See below.


Certainly gun controllers are.

Elizabeth McCarthy, who claims to be a physician who treated Pulse shooting victims is (or maybe was) running for Florida House district 28, on a gun control platform.

Soto Talks Gun Control at Town Hall
“That day [The night of the Pulse massacre] I removed 77 bullets from 32 people,” McCarthy said as she showed to the public bullets extracted from bodies.

That’s a little odd already. One physician pulled rounds from 32 of of the 44 victims sent to ORMC? And why the hell is she still in possession of forensic evidence? Granted, chumbucket is dead, but you’d think investigators would want all the evidence while they sorted out details.

But wait. There’s more. Florida Politics’ Scott Powers did an excellent job of digging up some interesting detail about “Doctor” McCarthy. Continue reading

So let me get this… um, straight

Let’s start with a hypothetical scenario: You work at a public library. You go check the overnight book drop, and discover a box sitting there. What is your immediate reaction?

A. Someone dropped off a bunch of unwanted books, as is common at libraries. I’ll sort them and see what we can use, and put the rest on the freebie cart by the door.

B. Huh. Wonder what that is? I guess I’ll check.

C. OH MY GOD! IT’S A FREAKING BOMB! CALL THE POLICE!!!
Continue reading