Amazon’s newest version of its Echo smart-home device, the Look, boasts a built-in video camera that can capture your outfits and provide fashion recommendations.
That’s a big step toward a lifestyle of the future.
But it also creates some important privacy issues that are worth keeping in mind if you’re considering buying the $199 Echo Look.
As with any connected device, and particularly an internet connected camera, there are valid concerns about privacy: Is the device always listening? Who can see the photos and videos it takes?
The most important thing to know is that the Echo Look does have an on/off switch. If you don’t want the device watching or listening to you, you can turn the camera and microphone off by pressing a button on the side of the device.
That’s nice. But hackers have a long history of using malicious tools to hijack PC webcams, allowing them to surreptitiously spy on people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself covers his laptop’s camera with tape, as does FBI Director James Comey.
And when it comes to internet-connected devices like webcams, it can be tricky to secure them properly, if at all.
The Echo is different, Amazon says, because it uses the retailer’s own time-tested security systems to protect your privacy. That means it’s backed by the same security Amazon uses to protect its own services, which ideally protects it against the vast majority of hackers.
Of course, nothing is bulletproof.
Turn on the blue light
When the Echo Look is turned on, Amazon says it…