Amazon Shuts Down “SMART Home”
Amazon shut down a Microsoft Site Reliability Engineer’s SMART home for a week because a delivery driver thought his automatic doorbell was racist. Then, a guy who reported his story on YouTube got his Amazon Affiliate account deleted. 6 Clips.
Amazon Shuts Down “SMART Home”
1984 is here. This is the primary reason that I don’t have any Alexa or Google Play, or any of these automated devices in my home. I do have a home automation system, but is not operated on the cloud, and this is scary. Essentially, Amazon has shut somebody out of their home—for a week! (01)
Amazon accused one of its customers of racism and subsequently locked them out of their account, which shut down their smart home. This was evidently reported by a driver, and Amazon did no review whatsoever and just locked the account. I’ll link to the article in the description. You can read the whole thing for yourself, and you should. (02) (03)
Obviously, there are a host of issues with Amazon doing this. I’m sure they’ll put some protocol in place that this “won’t happen again”. This is all the more reason if you have cameras or a SMART home. You should even look into doing your own server, but those things should run locally and record locally so that you are in control of them at all times. (04)
I mean, first of all, this person does not indicate their skin colour nor the skin colour of the driver. OK, well, this person’s black. I think… I can’t totally tell. He’s an engineer at Microsoft by the way. I think I can’t tell. It doesn’t matter, but the point I was saying is like, well, I don’t know what colour the driver was and what necessarily possible slurs they could have thought this meant, but this is wild.
Today, I would like to go over reason number 80 million that you should not be having stuff in your house, connect to Amazon servers for things like critical infrastructure, whether it is your camera systems, your doorbell, or any part of your home. (05)
“Alexa, good morning.” … “Turning on your shower.”
From the coffee maker to the front porch, the floors, to the counters.
“You’ve got four items on your shopping list.”
And the mesh Wi-Fi connecting at all.
Amazon is everywhere in the home, and in this SMART home lab we visited in Seattle.
In this lab alone, we have more than 45 devices. There is a smart fridge that is connected to Alexa. We have our thermostat, our ring doorbell, and cameras. Vacuum, the indoor quality monitor, and the TV.
And with its recent offer to buy Rumba Smart Vacuum Maker, iRobot for 1.7 billion, Amazon’s showing no signs of stopping. Although the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing whether the deal would violate antitrust law before allowing the takeover.
At this point, with its acquisition of iRobot, with its presence, and streaming, with its ring cameras, with its echo, smart speaker, Amazon can basically do everything, but smell what you’re having for dinner.
“Amazon takes its responsibility to customers and privacy incredibly seriously, and if we were to acquire iRobot or any other company, that would not change.”Leila Rouhi VP, Trust and Privacy, Amazon
“This incident left me without a house, with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions.”
On the Neighbours App, users can voluntarily post or provide video to law enforcement for active investigations, but Amazon has also been criticized for sharing ring video doorbell footage with law enforcement without user consent.
There’s legal process, and so our legal process happens to our legal team. We understand the absolutely sensitive nature of our videos, and we do our utmost to ensure that we are being incredibly thoughtful in how we respond to legal requests and protecting the customer’s interest.Leila Rouhi VP, Trust and Privacy, Amazon
And then there’s Amazon Sidewalk, a shared network, allowing devices to connect to each other. So it’s always on—beyond the reach of home Wi-Fi, and even if your internet goes out.
It can use just a little bit of bandwidth from customers that have opted in to the Sidewalk network, and so for example, if you have ring spot lighting, you typically have to be within Bluetooth range for the likes to be able to turn on and off using your app, with something like Sidewalk, it can go up to a mile in distance.Leila Rouhi VP, Trust and Privacy, Amazon
And soon, Alexa, Siri, Google, and more, may play better together too. An alliance of different device makers, including Amazon, Apple and Google, is developing a protocol called the Matter Standard that would allow devices to work across platforms instead of only answering to one voice assistant.
We believe that the home will always be a heterogeneous environment. Meaning you will have many different brands, many different devices, from many different companies in your home. (08)Marja Koopmans, Director, Smart Home, Amazon
But for a company to have the ability to shut down your product that you bought because you “allegedly..”, and it has things to do with home security. “Used it in such a way.” Mind blowing.
According to the customer, he was locked out of all of his smart devices without notice for a week pending investigation, and this is after they misheard a generic greeting from his Eufy doorbell—oh good, Eufy. No one was home at the time of the incident, which Rossmann confirmed after being provided the customer’s security footage. (09)
Amazon later acknowledged this incident and said it was “looking at ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again”. So this wasn’t even something that took place over an Amazon-owned, like a ring doorbell. This is something that just an Amazon driver complained about, and they basically went, okay, your customer history, all your stuff, I guess, by serial number is shut down. It’s down. It’s out. It’s gone. Oh no, I guess it would just be by account. Yeah, it would be by account login.
Have you ever had an issue with a postal worker? A UPS delivery person, a FedEx delivery person before—in your life? Can you imagine if that issue that you had with the delivery person resulted in items inside of your home that you bought and paid for no longer functioning and working?
This is why I think it is paramount that the infrastructure in your home be as sovereign as possible. Do not have your light switches or your radios or anything else in your home connecting to other people’s servers to get permission to turn on. That is a mess waiting to happen, because again, all it takes is an Amazon delivery driver who’s having a bad day to literally ruin your home. An unfounded accusation of racism means that infrastructure inside your home can stop working. This is the problem when you give too much control to one company, and particularly when that control that you’re giving is your devices inside of your home connecting to their servers. You could literally be in a situation where somebody making an unfounded, untrue, demonstrably proven untrue accusation of racism against you causes your internal home infrastructure to stop working. That’s fucking insane.
I completely understand and respect that the target demographic of this channel, the people that tend to show up in my comment section and show up to meetups are not the people who need to hear this public service announcement. You guys are ripping the computers out of as many things as possible that do not need a computer, because you don’t want to live in a world where the infrastructure in your house stops working because some douchebag at Amazon decided to listen to the unverified claims of someone who misheard a ring doorbell.
However, there are many other people out there that actually believe it’s a good idea to have the infrastructure in their house connect to somebody else’s servers sending those other people information, making their house completely dependent on some douchebag that works at Amazon for the ability of their devices at home to work that doesn’t even have the courtesy to apologize when proven that they were wrong for turning off what you bought and paid for.
Don’t have this stuff inside your house. You don’t need a SMART home. You don’t, like, am I allowed to say that? You don’t need a home that connects other people’s servers. You would find without it, you don’t need it now. If you want a light to turn on, turn the fucking switch.
Essentially, you’re open first of all to hacking and having that kind of stuff when you’re connecting all that to the web, but, like, what’s wild is because of the doorbell camera, like, this, you see, I hope this customer sues Amazon because in that information discovery phase there would be so much revealed about surveillance mechanisms linked to, “smartphone” tech. The question is, yeah, so Amazon disabled it and either reviewed the footage which they shouldn’t have any access to, right? They shouldn’t be logging into people’s houses and just kind of looking for racists.
A head of Amazon’s annual smart home event, we talked to the VP of Privacy to find out what really happens to all the data collected by Amazon’s devices and sat down with the head of SMART home to hear the strategy behind Amazon’s race to dominate the internet of things.
If you asked me three or four years ago what the adoption rate was, it was hovering around about 12%. During the pandemic, we saw that rocket to almost half of American households that have a Wi-Fi network at home have at least one smart home device.Adam Wright, Research Manager, Smart Home Devices, IDC
Adam Wright with smart home research at DataFirm IDC says his home is filled with 185 Alexa-enabled devices.
In 2018, Amazon purchased Video Doorbell Maker Ring for a billion dollars, just three months after acquiring home security company Blink for 90 million. A year later it bought eero for 97 million, a mesh Wi-Fi system that can connect it all.
Now, Amazon has offered 1.7 billion to acquire iRobot with its room mapping Roombas, a deal that analysts say isn’t really about the sale of the vacuums themselves.
It’s very difficult to make a lot of margins on the hardware and the device itself, but they have just acquired a massive data set which can help them in the aggregate, better understand the floor plans and the mapping of people’s homes.Adam Wright, Research Manager, Smart Home Devices, IDC
20 different privacy and labor groups, including Sarah Miller’s American Economic Liberties Project, have sent a letter to the FTC asking it to block the deal, citing concerns about privacy, and Amazon’s growing dominance of the smart home market. The FTC is requesting more information from both Amazon and iRobot before making a decision.
It has a camera in the front, which is a little bit unsettling. It can tell what you already have in your house. Who’s in your household? What types of things might you want to access right? They can target advertising on the Amazon platform in that way.Sarah Miller, Executive Director and Founder, American Economic Liberties Project
In response to privacy concerns raised by the pending deal, iRobot CEO told CNBC in a statement, “We know that customers welcome us into their homes because they trust that our products will help them do more and that we will respect their information. We take that trust seriously. Once we are required by Amazon, our commitment to customer data and privacy will remain.”
Privacy and security are a huge area of investment for us and will continue to be.Leila Rouhi VP, Trust and Privacy, Amazon
Amazon allegedly retaliates against critical news coverage. Amazon shuts down SMART home after delivery driver mishears racism from a doorbell. The week after his reporting, Rossmann received an email from Amazon saying that his application to the Amazon Associates program did not qualify and that his temporarily approved account has been rejected.
What’s more plausible that Louis Rossmann has been getting his employees to buy soldering tools en-masse for hundreds of dollars in kickbacks or that a petty middle manager at Amazon revoked the affiliate account of an outspoken critic with 1.8 million subscribers?
I’ll also say having had our own Amazon affiliate program scare in the past that the way that Amazon chooses to enforce the rules and regulations of that program are scatter shot at best, and I wouldn’t put it past them to target a particular creator with some kind of nonsense made up reason for ejecting them from the program. I don’t know if you guys remember the drama that we went through?
We only narrowly got our account reinstated and the reason that we were that we were kicked out allegedly was because we said that “using our affiliate code helped support us.”
That apparently violated their policy because it provided something in kind for using our affiliate program. What, gratitude? And they’re like, yeah, and I’m sitting here going basically every Twitch streamer has a banner under their channel that’s like support me by buying a sh** on Amazon using my account. So what’s with that? And it was only after we showed them our substantial daily subscriber growth that they reconsidered our case, and honestly, it was hard even getting to that point where we could talk to a real human being about the appeal. So yeah, based on my experience, I could see them having a very uneven approach to applying their seemingly completely opaque set of rules. Like how was I supposed to know that based on how everyone else was using it?
To be clear, we’ve had a pretty smooth relationship with Amazon over, I don’t know, the last while. Yeah, I just see the business team say that like they’re doing good or something. That’s all I actually know about these days, and it’s like it’s all affiliate based like before I think, or have they sponsored some stuff they might have sponsored a video or two actually now that I think about it. So things have been pretty smooth for us, but it wasn’t always like that, and with the way that they just treat the affiliate program, not as a discount, but as like a marketing exercise, I could absolutely see them being like, this isn’t worth it. Forget it. Just cut it off. Provide some BS reason. It doesn’t matter. Yeah, that’s that’s not cool.
You want to go down a rabbit hole? I mean, this is like, you know, try to get cash from a bank. I had to pay somebody to do an epoxy for my garage and they looked at me sideways because I had to pull out $6,500.
$6,500, not $65,000. Like, “Oh, what’s this for?” They always ask you what it’s for. You know what you tell them? Stick it up your nose. That’s what it’s for. Well, no, they’ll probably think that’s, you know…”Blow it out your rear—it’s none of their business with the money’s for!” They always ask too. “It’s none your business, you weirdo, give me my money!”
This is where you’re going with like digital currency, you know, social credit score. Oh, you’re so you did a you you sent a tweet that we deemed racist. Your entire house is now shut down. Your banks are shut down. This stuff is real and it’s coming. This is just the beginning.
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” ― George Orwell, 1984
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|01||13 Jun 2023 Amazon Alexa Hears “Racist Remark” & SHUTS DOWN Man’ Entire Smart Home For A Week! https://youtu.be/LzdDRmr56qA|
|02||A Tale of Unwanted Disruption: My Week Without Amazon https://medium.com/@bjax_/a-tale-of-unwanted-disruption-my-week-without-amazon-df1074e3818b|
|03||Amazon Allegedly Shuts Down Man’s Smart Home Over False Claims Of Racism https://dailycaller.com/2023/06/13/louis-rossman-amazon-smart-home-racist-remarks/|
|04||14 Jun 2023 Amazon SHUTS DOWN Man’s Smart Home https://youtu.be/PFbxapX4bRE|
|05||13 Jun 2023 Amazon accuses customer of racism & shuts down their smart home – ENOUGH CLOUD JUNK! https://youtu.be/NfiIXooD77s|
|06||Brandon Jackson https://medium.com/@bjax_|
|07||Jun 5 2023 (Original Article): A Tale of Unwanted Disruption: My Week Without Amazon https://medium.com/@bjax_/a-tale-of-unwanted-disruption-my-week-without-amazon-df1074e3818b|
|08||29 Sept 2022 How Amazon Dominates Smart Home And Why It Wants To Buy iRobot https://youtu.be/qEKKFDP9M3k|
|09||“(Update) I’ve shared this with Louis Rossmann. I shared with him the videos and emails and he verified this really did happen.” Medium.com|