Manitoba Justice Newsletter for June, 2021


Have you ever wondered whether someone could be listening to all your communication within the privacy of your own home? Well, that time has arrived. The amazon echo seems to have that capability according to an article in The National Law Review, June 27, 2021 Volume XI, Number 178 at the following web link: more >>

The author discusses how the Amazon Echo actually records conversations even in situations where you may not even be aware that such is happening. The article quotes reports from Bloomberg news, the NYT and the Washington Post. Privacy laws are not being respected. There are reports that “you have no control over what sort of data flows over Amazon’s new Sidewalk wireless network, which has been lying dormant in Echo smart speakers and Ring cameras….until now.” Many questions arise: “Sidewalk, which is built into Amazon devices dating back to 2018, raises more red flags than a marching band parade: Is it secure enough to be activated in so many homes? Are we helping Amazon build a vast network that can be used for more surveillance? And why didn’t Amazon ask us to opt-in before activating a capability lying dormant in our devices?”

The crazy thing is that your neighbours could have access to the Echo device even though you don’t enable such feature directly yourself. So, the owner of the device does not know what kind of connectivity one has and you don’t know what kind of IoT(internet of things) or suveillance devices will be attached. You are paying for the network but it seems that Amazon decides how to use it. It is very scary stuff.

The echo speaker system is the electronic gadget that works in tandem with the Alexa network. So if you say “hey alexa turn my lights on in my bedroom” then the network responds. But if you are talking with someone in your house and Alexa thinks that you are talking with the network, then the conversation could be recorded or worse, neighbouring IoT devices could potentially log into your network.

Privacy concerns are paramount but this could also lead to cybersecurity concerns as well due to the fact that having a porous network could enable hackers to get into your entire system at home and control your heat and airconditioning as well as access private info stored in your echo device system.

Its probably a good idea to enhance your home insurance policy to include cybersecurity protection as a result. If you are a true techy and you want your entire house connected digitally to your smart phone, then that is the price you have to pay: having a more robust cyber security insurance plan.

DAVID H. DAVIS, Technology and Innovation lawyer: 

Manitoba Justice Newsletter for June 2021 - Davis Cyber Law