Amazon’s residential Alexa is a Brewi privacy nightmare

Amazon's residential Alexa is a Brewi privacy nightmare

Amazons Alexa for Landlords is an illustration of a knight waiting for a privacy nightmare to happen

Photo: Amazon

You know Steve Carell’s clip from office He said, “No, God! No, please no! No! No! No!” That’s the way I feel Amazon Announce We are adding a new service to Alexa for our landlords. It’s called “Alexa for Residential,” according to Amazon, and “allows real estate managers to easily set up and manage an Alexa-based smart home experience across the building.”

Landlords can set up special Alexa orders to allow tenants to pay rent, submit maintenance requests, and manage other things that usually come with an apartment or other residential rental area. Of course, it works as a regular smart speaker like all jazz, dim the lights and get the weather forecast. Landlords can remotely reset their devices whenever someone moves out, so they can tidy up their devices for the next person.

In its press release, Amazon claims it has taken the necessary steps to protect the privacy of its residents. An issue that Amazon hasn’t addressed in the announcement is the drop-in feature of the Amazon Echo device.

Drop-in allows you to connect to another Echo user’s device as long as the Echo user has given permission. They don’t even have to be in the same house. If both devices are connected to the Internet, Drop In functions like a Zoom call. When you enable this feature, you can hear: nothing Within device range nothing For Echo Show, the other side sends the voice or video feed to the other device.

When I contacted Amazon for a clear explanation of the Drop In feature, the spokesperson ignored the concern, implying that safeguards are in place and that these potential privacy breaches are entirely under the control of the tenant.

“Alexa communication features like Drop In don’t work when the device is empty or occupied mode. No property managers or smart home integrators can use Drop In,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email. “Drop In only works if the resident has connected the device on the device to an Amazon account, and once the account is linked, all the features Alexa has to offer. I have permission.”

But we all know that the homeowner is basically stupid. (If not, congratulations!) And some will use this as an opportunity to be more shit than ever.

For example, a landlord can control the drop-in feature by linking his or her account to the device. The call is connected as long as the device is not in Do Not Disturb mode. This is especially problematic if you are not at home and do not disturb mode is turned off. I don’t know how to handle this in the same context as entering a house without permission, but I think it’s worse in some ways than the same. The landlord will be able to listen to my house if the device is Echo Show. My house can see from my house that I am paying the rent. This way, you can protect your privacy in remote viewing.

Many landlords and property management companies generally require periodic physical inspections of their homes if they suspect they are keeping their homes habitable, or if they suspect they are violating the rental agreement for any reason. Normally you still need to get your permission to enter, but if your unit comes with an Echo Show, you may need to enable the drop-in feature so you can see the house without having to be physically. As far as we can tell, nothing can stop the lessor from putting the condition into the lease that the lessor must activate the drop-in. Of course there is a possibility of legal disputes, but this is not a problem for now as you have to violate someone’s privacy first.

This adds to the fact that the whole smart speaker phenomenon that comes with your rental is still odd for me for some reason. Amazon National Apartment Association, “84% of tenants want an apartment with smart home amenities,” and “61% of these said they would pay a monthly fee for their voice assistant”, which is why they offer the new Alexa for Residential service. It is part.

First of all, who would be 84% of people who would be okay if a landlord could have access to a smart speaker at home? Staff Amazon can hear Record every time you pay rent. Amazon says that property managers “do not have access to customer data” and “voice recordings are automatically deleted every day.” Residents can also connect their personal Amazon account to their device and control their privacy settings. Still, it’s great to have a homeowner-owned smart speaker or a personal smart speaker.

Second, who wants to add extra money to the already weird monthly rent? Especially those living in certain areas of California and New York. It doesn’t matter if it costs 10 more dollars a month. A $500 deposit, a $500 pet deposit, and a $50 pet rent (if you have a pet) are enough for your first month’s rent (usually over $2,000). Enough for those who want to move in the midst of an epidemic. There’s nothing a smart speaker can offer that can’t be done either through my phone or through the resident portal on my just website. Besides, if you want an Alexa device for your home, you don’t need a landlord and can buy it yourself.

We are also worried that landlords may require residents to use Alexa devices for non-spy purposes. My apartment complex is already paid by residents through an online portal managed through a company called Zego, a subsidiary of PayLease. 2018 year Amazon works with Zego Alexa smart home devices launched for 30,000 units S2 Capital Apartment. My worries are that given enough time and “demand”, the landlord will try to install the Alexa device at home. Of course the first question is “Should I use it?” Otherwise, if the landlord doesn’t take it out of the house, those suckers are dismantled and put in a box in my closet.

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About the Author: Max Grant

Devoted web lover. Food expert. Hardcore twitter maven. Thinker. Freelance organizer. Social media enthusiast. Creator. Beer buff.

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