Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa-enabled devices are illegally recording and permanently storing the voices of children without consent, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed this week in Washington state district court.
“The legal theory is very straightforward. These kids themselves never consented, if they even could. No one such as a parent ever consented on their behalf,” Travis Lenkner, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, told Yahoo Finance.
In the complaint filed by two law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Keller Lenkner, on behalf of an unnamed minor and other similarly situated children, plaintiffs criticize Amazon’s methods, alleging that the company, despite having the choice to scramble or encrypt user voices, instead retains, analyzes, and uses actual voice recordings so that it can deploy them for commercial benefit.
Professor Warns: Amazon Echo is “Always Recording” You
Alexa Recorded Family’s Conversation, Sent to Random Contact on Their List
Amazon has overtaken Google and Apple to become the world’s most valuable brand at $315.5 billion, according to a ranking of global companies, up 52% on last year.
Apple comes second, valued at $309.5 billion, with Google in third place, at $309 billion, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand ranking 2019, compiled by WPP research agency Kantar and released Tuesday.
Google and Apple had spent a combined 12 years at the top of the list, with Google taking the top spot in 2018.
LAS VEGAS, June 6 (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday he expects there will be commercial robots in the next 10 years that can grasp items as reliably as humans, a development that could lead to the automation of warehouse jobs around the world.
The remark, made on stage at Amazon’s “re:MARS” conference in Las Vegas, underscored how companies and university researchers are rapidly developing technology to perform human tasks, whether for elder care in the home or for the picking and stowing of goods in retail warehouses.
“I think grasping is going to be a solved problem in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s turned out to be an incredibly difficult problem, probably in part because we’re starting to solve it with machine vision, so (that means) machine vision did have to come first.”
Scientists Begin Teaching AI Robots to Evolve Reproduce
DARPA Coding ‘Common Sense’ into AI to Replace Humans
Amazon to Host Robotics AI Conference
NVIDIA AI Creates Realistic Portraits of People Who Don’t Exist
Amazon employs thousands of people to listen in on what people around the world are saying to their Alexa digital assistant, according to what is sure to be a Congressional hearing-inspiring report by Bloomberg, which cites seven people who have worked on the program.
While their job is to “help improve” NSAlexa – which powers the company’s line of Echo speakers – the team “listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices,” which are then transcribed, annotated and fed back into the software in order to try and improve Alexa’s understanding of human speech for more successful interactions. In other words, humans are effectively helping to train Amazon’s algorithm.
In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching. -Bloomberg
Google and Amazon Spy on Alexa/ Voice Assistant Users
Amazon was pressured into removing baby jumpsuits with highly inappropriate sayings written on them after critics pointed out the clothing was aimed at pedophiles.
One of the garments reading “Daddy’s Little F*** Toy” was being sold for $18.98 (£14.38) before being removed from Amazon’s website.
Another onesie with the phrase “I Just Look Illegal” was being sold for $20 (£15.15) by third-party Canadian vendor VanBer.
Prof. Marci Hamilton, CEO of a non-profit committed to protecting children called CHILD USA, told The Sun, “It is outrageous that baby clothing with this language appears anywhere on the web let alone Amazon.”
On January 7 of this year, I published an article at PJ Media about Amazon removing doormats featuring Qur’an verses from sale because the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found them offensive. In that article, I asked:
How long will it be before Hamas-linked CAIR starts demanding that books that criticize jihad terror and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others also be dropped by Amazon?
The answer turned out to be 51 days.
It’s the British government and the BBC, rather than CAIR, that are likely behind this, but Amazon has just dropped the book Mohammed’s Koran by the renowned British activist Tommy Robinson and Peter McLoughlin — and apparently only because its censors dislike Robinson. In the last two weeks, Robinson spectacularly embarrassed the BBC by exposing the bias and dishonesty of its reporter John Sweeney. The retaliation has been swift and severe: Robinson has been banned from YouTube and Facebook, and now his book has been withdrawn from sale.
Can this possibly be legal?
Somebody apparently thinks so, because copies of the Mueller report are being offered for sale online right now, and according to the pre-order announcement the release date is going to be “March 26”. As a former attorney, I have no idea how anyone can legally do this. As I have documented previously, when Mueller is done with his report he is supposed to submit it to Attorney General William Barr, and then it will be up to Barr to determine how much of the report, if any, will be made available to the public. I suppose that it is possible that Barr has already agreed to release the full report to the public at the end of this month, but I find it difficult to believe that it would have been kept so quiet. To me, something is not right about all of this.
Earlier today, I was shocked to hear that the Mueller Report was being offered for sale online, and so I decided to check it out for myself.
End of the American Dream
While some people have received some surprise tax bills when filing their returns, corporations continue to avoid paying tax — thanks to a cocktail of tax credits, loopholes, and exemptions.
According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Amazon (AMZN) will pay nothing in federal income taxes for the second year in a row.
Thanks to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Amazon’s federal tax responsibility is 21% (down from 35% in previous years). But with the help of tax breaks, according to corporate filings, Amazon won’t be paying a dime to Uncle Sam despite posting more than $11.2 billion in profits in 2018.
How is that possible?
“It’s hard to know exactly what they’re doing,” said Steve Wamhoff, ITEP’s Director of Federal Tax Policy. “In their public documents they don’t lay out their tax strategy. So it’s unclear exactly which breaks [the company is taking advantage of]. They vaguely say tax credits. One could think of many different ways a corporation could do this, like the depreciation breaks which were expanded under TCJA.”
In a detailed blog post on Medium.com tonight, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reveals the National Enquirer is threatening to publish embarrassing photos of him (and his new girlfriend) unless his private investigators back off their probe of the tabloid.
The “extortion and blackmail” comes after The National Enquirer published a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Since then, private investigators have been looking into how the Enquirer got the texts, which is notable since, as part of the deal, Bezos would have to release a public statement that he has “no knowledge or basis” to suggest the tabloid’s reporting was politically motivated.