Privacy Please

S5, E196 -Tech's Dark Side: Unveiling the 'Worst in Show' at CES 2024

January 18, 2024 Cameron Ivey
Privacy Please
S5, E196 -Tech's Dark Side: Unveiling the 'Worst in Show' at CES 2024
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This week on Privacy Please, we dive into the underbelly of CES 2024 as consumer and privacy advocates expose the 'Worst in Show.' From BMW's questionable Alexa partnership to disposable Sennheiser earbuds and Instacart's AI cart pushing ads, discover the tech innovations sparking safety, privacy, and environmental concerns. 

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Speaker 1:

And we're live back in our homes. Cameron Ivy, gabe Gums this is Privacy, please. How we doing, we're doing. Well, how we doing we doing chill, we're chilling, we're chilling is what the cool kids say.

Speaker 2:

We're chilling big time. It's like the low 50 degrees in this state. What's going on?

Speaker 1:

It was 41 this morning 41 this morning. I forgot to turn on my heater last night. Oh, my Tootsies were cold. No one.

Speaker 2:

I mean, no one up north wants to hear about this. I'm not busy dealing with snow on the ground and Philly.

Speaker 1:

I could have worn socks though. I could have worn socks though. Yeah, I know, my toes were frozen and I was too cold to get out of my sheets.

Speaker 2:

I understand the struggle. My sweater game is tight. My sweater game is tight. You got to keep some sweaters around this time of year, it's true.

Speaker 1:

You got some good ones and some good cardigans.

Speaker 2:

You know where it's not cold Vegas. Vegas is where it's not cold, we're not in Vegas. Last week in Vegas was the Consumer Electronics Show. Yeah, good transition you like that segue when it actually is warm, which isn't here. The Consumer Electronics Show was wrapped up last week, on the 10th. I mean I assume that most people in technology have either heard of it or at least tangentially seen it come up Like, even if you've never paid attention to it, because I've never paid any deep attention to it, largely because I don't work in Consumer Electronics, but there are a lot of folks that do work in Consumer Electronics.

Speaker 2:

Consumer Electronics are well, they're ripe for privacy problems and abuses. It's where we've seen most privacy challenges. Think everything from Fitbits that gave away too much information consumer product to your cell phone, your cell phone, a consumer digital product that gives away too much information. They're toasters that are now connected to Wi-Fi. Why do you have a toaster that connects to Wi-Fi? But last week I also saw there was some washing machines that were caught sending gigabytes of data across the internet. It's like why is your washing machine sending all this data? And the answer is because Consumer Electronics well, they haven't traditionally been built with privacy first in mind, and so last week there were a number of technologies on display and there is a panel of judges.

Speaker 2:

This group includes Consumer Reports and the EFF. So the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Consumer Reports, those are both names that certainly Consumer Electronics Reports is a household name, but for our audience, I assume, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is a household name too. So they put out this list every year of worst in show, based on a number of things like products that are just bad, like bad for us as humans. Products are just bad because they're not very durable, they don't freaking last, they're cheap, crappy Consumer Electronics and products that violate the hell out of our privacy or our autonomy right. You're right to repair and things of that nature. So there were several that made that list this year.

Speaker 1:

I'm looking at it and it's fascinating. Can we just talk about Instacart's AI-powered shopping cart where it's pushing junk food based on customers' historic shopping behavior?

Speaker 2:

That not only sounds like a bit of a privacy violation, but like what if you struggle with food addictions? Right, this sounds problematic.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, all of America struggles with that.

Speaker 2:

I don't need you shoving junk on me, just walking around talking about first bag of chips for retail, you friends.

Speaker 1:

I mean, let's not even go into the fact that most food labels are so Deceptive at best Deceptive- you.

Speaker 2:

It's scary. At worst they are outright well, not existent in some things. Like it still grinds my gears. At most wines, almost all of them, for example, you can get a list of ingredients. And why might that matter? Well, I mean, a lot of wines are still made with animal products and that matters to some people. Yeah right, like course, food labels at best are deceptive, at worst they're not.

Speaker 1:

They're outright non-existent, and somewhere in the middle is just a lot of fuck yeah, there's a combo robot vacuum that is identified as a cybersecurity concerned due to its potential for intrusive home surveillance, including cameras, microphones, lidar voice recognition and computer vision why do you need a robot to sell that?

Speaker 2:

so so lazy yeah, but does it need eyes though? I mean, does it really? Because, like some of the original vacuum robots, one of the privacy concerns there and security concerns do was like it. It maps out your home footprint because it it needs to know, it bumps into things and it basically knows the layout of your home, which, for folks like Amazon, that data tells them a lot of things.

Speaker 2:

Well, for anyone, right, like square footage of your home tells a lot about you. Right, might tell you how many bedrooms. Right, like how many kids you might have, how many people live in that home. Tells you a lot about wealth. Tells you a lot about, right, like you know that this person has a home that, based on the zip code and the size of the zone, like we know what's worth flying. There is a lot of information you can get from a robot simply mapping out the square footage of your home, much less having a damn microphone and a camera attached to it, like I. I'm okay without this. I still know how to mop sweet. I haven't lost in it gave.

Speaker 1:

This is the exact example of when we're talking about privacy and innovation, and where it's almost impossible to have privacy when innovation cares more about. He's making it easier for people to become lazier, not being able to think. I feel bad for the next generation and the one right now.

Speaker 2:

I could argue that society becoming laser has a net positive of us working less, which could be good for which could be great right like for everyone like it could allow for more creative endeavors as an entire society, which might lift us up in other ways.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like more time everyone to think about the things that are broken. It, however, is in direct opposition to infinite growth which the form of capitalism that this country and most of the planet you know conducts is like it. It requires production. I don't want to say I sound like Karl Marx out here. I like this. That's not what this show is about.

Speaker 2:

So, again, no usual folks who are you not gonna at me? Don't at me, alright, yeah, cuz he won't respond, I will not respond. But that being said, yeah, like making people laser is good, but they're not really trying to make us laser, I think they're. They're just trying to extract dollars and and and violate our privacy. I really don't need you know. We phrase that. No one needs a robot nobody does and nobody needs.

Speaker 1:

And well, this is okay. Going to the BMW partnership with Amazon's Alexa, it emphasizes that it you should allow people to turn off tracking features inside their own car. It shouldn't be something you can't disable or enable. It should give. It should be just like our privacy rights. We should be able to choose. That shouldn't be an automatic thing without any way of turning it off. That's problematic because there's tons of bad people out there that can track you. They can track you off of that feature. Criminals could use that to rob you or break into your car. Know where it is.

Speaker 2:

There's just a lot of red flags there, too many that again, from a privacy perspective, the trade-off question always has to be asked Is the convenience that, having a robot that intelligent is that convenience really worth? Oops, there it is, folks, now I will not take it. Is that convenience really worth it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, is it worth it? That's the question. Is your privacy worth the convenience?

Speaker 2:

I think the answer is not for that kind of convenience.

Speaker 1:

I don't think so.

Speaker 2:

Not at all.

Speaker 1:

What do y'all think, and by y'all I mean you listening.

Speaker 2:

What else is on the list?

Speaker 1:

Let's see we got. You talked about the microwave for a little bit, but that's pretty fascinating too. We were talking about the washing machine?

Speaker 2:

What's the microwave?

Speaker 1:

Oh no, you did wash it Okay. So microwave it's $1800. And it's criticized for combining a microwave with a convention oven, leading to increased environmental impact. You had another bad consumer product.

Speaker 2:

So, again, what these brick bats, as the awards, are known for, is not just things that violate our privacy, but things that are just bad, like just bad technology, which privacy violated technology is usually. But this sounds ridiculous too. I got it. I mean, it sounds like a decent idea. It's like, yeah, I want just the one device.

Speaker 1:

But, like you said, none of these companies had privacy in mind whatsoever.

Speaker 2:

No nobody does, or your safety in that company's case which?

Speaker 1:

Or safety. That one doesn't sound very good. And it sounds extremely expensive for something. Just get yourself a $40 air fryer. All right, you'll think later yeah, make it healthier for when you're making potatoes or anything you want to air fry.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly. Oh, now I'm getting hungry. Anyways, to end conclusion with this whole episode technology, the implications of technology beyond the immediate functionality, or whatever. I think there's an emphasis on needing more responsibility and sustainable innovation and having privacy in mind as well when making the products. Yeah, so interesting topic, but I'll share these in more detail in the show notes. Hello everyone. Gabe, you got anything else on this?

Speaker 2:

No, I don't really have anything else other than privacy is not just an enterprise-wide problem. It's not just a B2B problem, it's very much anything. It's arguably more of a B2C problem. Consumer electronics are not a thing we talk about heavily on this show, but every single one that tunes into this show is certainly consumer of consumer electronics. Obviously it is something to be remembered that it's just not something that gets enough pressure, I think, from regulation or even buyers. That's really where it needs to happen is with the wallet. We need to collectively tell these organizations we are not interested in washing machines that know the color of your underwear. I can see that feature automatically. You don't have to worry about sorting your colors from your darks anymore.

Speaker 1:

I mean, sooner or later it's going to be interesting because obviously we've talked about people having relationships with robots and AI. I could see lonely people having relationships with a washing machine, where they talk to it, have conversations with it. Oh, Jerry, looks like you've got three red pairs of underwear now Where'd you get these? There's a couple holes in this one. You need to replace it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. There's a hole in all of it. You automatically get some ads from AWS to buy some new on these.

Speaker 1:

You will. Yeah, there's a lot of underwear companies. I'd be glad to have your data to be able to promote that.

Speaker 2:

I can see it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's all Very cool. I think that's pretty much it for this one.

Speaker 2:

It's a wrap, folks. We'll catch you guys next week. Until then, please disconnect your toasters from the interwebs and carry on.

Speaker 1:

Please do that. If you haven't seen the adventures of my little toaster, or whatever it's called, go check it out. I'm a bit of goody. This episode is brought to you by Old Disney Movies and we're out.

Speaker 2:

Stupid, that's funny.

Speaker 1:

Sorry about my little toaster, or something like that.

Speaker 2:

I have a toaster. I don't like it now. Sorry about that.

Privacy Concerns With Consumer Electronics Innovations
Red Underwear and AWS Ads