Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data

It says a lot that societies who are still part of what is rather weakly called the free world could do this.  Technology, viewed as emancipating and rewarding, can actually introduce different chains and shackles, becoming repellent and self-defeating.

The field of privacy is one such precarious area, permanently assailed by the chest-thumping innovators. Privacy, that intangible phenomenon Mark Zuckerberg, at one point, thought had been abolished as a social norm, less by the vague controls of Facebook than by the volition of users to “share information”.

The world of surveillance has gone total and, of greater concern, become totalising.  Social media details shared, distributed and monetised is but one aspect of this world with withered privacy.  Products sold to the general public for use – take the talking doll “My Friend Carla” – invite a data accumulating entity into the home.  The doll’s manufacturer, Genesis Toys, insists on ensuring “that our products and services are safe and enjoyable for our customers.”

That particular doll, ironically enough, has concerned those in the business of surveillance, a form of unwarranted competition to those who are in the know.  Jochen Homann of Germany’s Federal Network Agency insists that the country-wide ban, which has come into force, was designed to “protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

And what, exactly, was so irksome about this intrusive creature?  For one, it relays a…

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