Don’t mess up.

Ian McIlwraith
May 27, 2018
Ian McIlwraith
May 27, 2018

Last week, when the news broke about a Portland families’ Echo Dot sending a private conversation to one of their phone contacts, I had a few reactions. My first reaction was “Yikes, our worst fear actually happened” and my second reaction was “Oh snap, we better be careful.”

Let me explain. As smart home devices like the Echo Dot, Google Home, and Apple HomePod have become a part of our lives, we’ve allowed devices connected to the internet with microphones into each corner of our rooms. Sure, the manufacturers claim that the devices are only activated if you say the hotword, but there’s always that “what if” that makes its way into our minds.

That “what if” became reality for that family, when a conversation between the husband and wife got recorded and sent to a contact on one of their phones, unbeknownst to either of them until they got a call from the receipient.

That leads me to my primary point.

We need to be careful.
In this specific situation, the conversation was only about hardwood floors. Thankfully for them, that was one of the better conversations that could have been recorded. There are way worse conversations that could have just as easily been recorded.

This had me thinking about all the other possibilities. All that could have gone wrong. Then I remembered that I’m at the same exact risk as them. In fact, everyone who has some sort of electronic device is at risk.

What’s the risk? It’s the risk that everything we do and say has the potentialto be recorded and saved forever on the internet. Not that everything isrecorded, but the possibility is always there.

We can’t live our lives like everything we do in the confines of our home will remain only as memories in the minds of our loved ones. Not any more. We must remember that at any given point, there are microphones listening to what we say, cameras recording what we do, GPS trackers monitoring our whereabouts, accelerometers interpreting each step, and much more than that.

It is of the utmost importance to remember that once something is on the internet, it stays there forever.

Not everything on the internet is true. But everything that is there can be tracked if someone is dedicated enough. Most of the population doesn’t have to worry about being tracked, simply because there are way more interesting people to uncover each byte of information about.

It’s been proven time and time again in recent years how easy it is to uncover sensitive information about celebrities and other public figures. Most of the time, those leaks lead to the utter downfall of those people and the end of an otherwise successful career.

However, the key to remember is that their internet profile is only recent. Those growing up in the digital age have every day tracked, starting the day they were born. How much more damaging will it be in 10, 20, 30 years when each day of an individual is etched on their permanent internet record?

There’s no forgiveness on the internet. Tread carefully.