11:26 GMT20 February 2020
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    A writer for Gizmodo had a hunch: Could the FBI spy on your Amazon Echo? He filed a FOIA Request and got a disturbing answer.

    Matt Novak, a writer for Gizmodo/Gawker Media wondered if the FBI could tap into the microphone for his Amazon Echo, a device sold by Amazon which lets him order goods, play music, and a host of other services with the sound of his voice which they have affectionately named “Alexa.” 

    Novak points out that the Echo’s microphone is perpetually on and can be access with “a little hacking.” 

    “In many ways the Echo is a law enforcement dream,” he writes. “Years ago agencies like the FBI would need to wiretap a phone conversation or place bugs inside homes, practices that can be cost prohibitive and labor intensive. Today, you just need some software to tap into a device’s microphone.”

    To find out if the FBI was doing as he suspected they might, he filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The response was vague at best and nefarious at worst.

    “Please be advised, after reviewing the substantive nature of your request, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to your request….” the FBI responded.

    Citing that such disclosure would “disclose techniques, procedures, and/or guidelines” regarding FBI procedure, the agency refused the request.

    Doing anything you don’t want the FBI or maybe even the world to know about? It’s probably a good idea not to talk about it around the Echo. Or else, Novak points out, you’re basically just offering unfettered information. 

    “Alexa, tell the Feds where the bodies are buried,” he concluded. 

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    Tags:
    surveillance, spying, Amazon Echo, Amazon, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Gawker, Gizmodo, Matt Novak
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