News Room

Smart Speakers and Privacy Concerns

Written on behalf of Brian Kabateck

July 6, 2018

Smart speakers have exploded onto the market, with Amazon and Google being the driving force behind making them common items in our households. The Amazon Echo powered by smart artificial intelligence Alexa has become a popular item for people who are looking into the latest advanced technology. But as the popularity of smart speakers grows, so does the safety and privacy concerns about a device that has the potential to listen to what you have to say and how it processes information using that data.

Smart devices can play music, tell you the weather, tell you the news, and it can even get you an Uber or Lyft. There’s no doubt that they are great devices capable of doing amazing things, but many people are questioning just how intrusive they are when it comes to our privacy. Wired reported one case where one person’s Amazon Echo smart speaker sent audio clips of a private conversation, and a response was formulated and sent to a random person on her contact list. The woman said that one of her husband’s employees called them and said that he had received a text message containing an audio recording of one of their conversations. This sparked the debate about whether privacy protections in smart devices were in order, and whether the benefits outweigh the risks of keeping a live mic that has the potential to record private conversations in your home.

Back in October, Google admitted that their Google Home devices were eavesdropping on its users. A tech blogger by the name of Artem Russakovskii discovered a bug in the software used by these devices that showed that they were saving audio recordings when the word “OK Google” wasn’t used. Smart speakers typically wait for a ‘wake’ word to indicate to the speaker that a command is being made, which prompts the device to record the audio, and then it’s sent to the servers.

Some ways you can protect your privacy from these devices is to unplug them when you want to make sure it’s not going to be eavesdropping. And if you feel that’s not going to do the job, you can exchange it for something that doesn’t have a microphone. Smart speakers are a new and exciting technology that gives us the ability of having our very own digital assistants, however there are still privacy concerns that need to be addressed and understood in order to protect the privacy of consumers.

A consumer class action is a lawsuit in state or federal court that is brought by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people similarly situated.

Typically, it seeks damages on behalf of the named persons bringing the suit as well as the members of the “class.” Class action claims can involve mass disasters, consumer product defects and failure, or even violations of state consumer protection laws.

The purpose for class actions is to combine the smaller-dollar claims of a large number of people in order to pursue the claims cost-effectively and improve the chances for success against large corporations.

When a case is brought as a class action, the court will first decide first whether it is a proper class action through a process called class certification. Then, the parties proceed toward trial on the basis of the claims in the case. Due to the nature of the case, the court must approve any settlement and will order notice to be given to any class action members who will be bound by a settlement agreement or a dismissal of the case.

The attorneys at Kabateck LLP have honed specialized skills in handling class action litigation for several decades. Whether the suit is for a inoperative medical device, a deceptively designed printer cartridge, or an improper accounting at the bank, our attorneys have successfully represented thousands of clients in class action or similar representative actions.