Is Alexa listening – and recording? Incident prompts worry about smarthome hubs

Open the cupboard doors, Alexa

A worrisome new incident has renewed the hot topic debate around what exactly our “smart home” devices are listening to while we go about our daily lives. The story begins here in DT’s home town of Portland, Oregon, where a couple were chatting away and someway, somehow, their Amazon Echo device activated, recorded their conversation, and then sent it to a person on their contacts list. That person happened to be an employee of the man who was recorded, and he alerted the couple to the issue, and also prompted them to unplug their Alexa devices, which controlled many aspects of their home, including lights and their security system.

So how did it happen? The couple said Amazon told them that after looking at their Echo activity logs, a long string of coincidental misinterpretations of what was being said – and then heard – by the Echo device resulted in the miscue  – and they’re working to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But it highlights the question that many people still have about smart home hubs from any vendor: What are they hearing – and possibly recording – and who else can hear it? It’s a complicated story, so check it out below and leave your comments on our YouTube post.

It’s gotta be the helmet

He’s one of the most mysterious characters in the Star Wars universe, and one of the most soft-spoken as well, with a total of just 27 words of dialog. But Han who knew we was, even if Vader couldn’t remember his name, calling him “bounty hunter” in Empire. That’s right, we’re talking about Boba Fett, who met his end in the sandpit home of Sarlac, and will now apparently be getting his own Star Wars Story Series movie. Hopefully, he’ll have a bit more dialog this time around.

While Fett’s story did get a bit more background in prequel Episode II, where Mace Windu dispatched his father, Jango Fett, Boba has actually had quite a bit more development outside of the movies in books and other corners of the broader Star Wars Universe. But he’s always been a fan favorite, and now it looks like Logan director James Mangold will head up the production, which is good news, as Logan was pretty dark, and a dark movie about a bounty hunter sounds like a good idea. And if you’re amped up for the opening of Solo this weekend, be sure to check out our review.

Death and other funny subjects

Speaking of movies, we just got off the phone with Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg, who will probably always be known for Shaun of the Dead despite his other turns in Hot Fuzz, Mission: Impossible and as a young Scottie in the new Star Trek movies. Now, Pegg’s got a new movie out costarring Harley Quinn – er, Margot Robbie – called Terminal.

We talked to him about that, and the possibility Hot Fuzz could live on as a TV show, and what he thinks about the bonkers stunt work by Tom Cruise. So what’s coming up for Pegg? More Star Trek? Mission: Impossible? More collaborations with long time comedy collaborator Nick Frost? You betcha. Check out the full interview.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.