Speakers

Is It Illegal to Install a ‘Hidden’ Smart Speaker?

Certain state laws prohibit audio recording in covert applications, so can you disguise an Amazon Echo or Google Home?

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6 Comments
Posted by Ernie G on December 19, 2018

“‘If anyone has a statute that prohibits audio in a covert camera we’d all like to hear about it,’ comments legal expert Ken Kirschenbaum….”

This is forbidden in at least those states where all parties to a conversation have to assent to its recording. Yes, it’s a camera, but while the statutes mentioned in the article refer to recording audio, this article does not refer in any way to the devices used to make such recordings, be they a mic, a hidden recorder, a camera, or a super-genius parrot.

Posted by leggwork on December 19, 2018

but is it really “recording” when nobody can practically replay the recording?  Seems like the issue is more about what Google/Amazon et al agree to re not using the recordings for other than agreed-upon uses.  Are Echos illegal in states where all must assent - most lay people don’t realize that an Echo in plain sight is continuously recording/analysing the audio stream, let alone hidden.

Posted by Ernie G on December 19, 2018

I have recently unearthed about two hundred pounds of records made before 1920, many before 1920. Are they not recordings because “nobody can practically replay the recording”? There are pockets of fanatics here and there who have the means of playing back these recordings.

I cannot play several 16” transcription discs I have that were made in the 1940s—my tone arm assembly is less than 8” from the center of the records. Are they not recordings?

There are probably people in the digital sound realm who could play back the recordings made by “Hidden ‘Smart’ Speakers.”

Even if nobody we know has the capability of playing back these recordings, the very definition of the situation admits that they are recordings! Yeah, they are recordings.

I vaguely remember that there’s a book from perhaps the middle ages, written in a language that nobody has been able to decipher. Does that mean it’s not a book? Being unreadable does not null out its bookiness.

Posted by leggwork on December 20, 2018

I was getting at more about what those recordings can be used for.  As far as I’ve heard, Google/Amazon et al will require a court order to access the recordings made by an Echo or similar.  So I as a homeowner or even an integrator shouldn’t be held responsible for the fact that those devices can do recordings.  I suppose someone could hack into the data stream and make their own version of the recordings, but if you’re doing that, a covert microphone is a lot simpler to implement.  I would be **really** surprised if an integrator is held responsible for a hidden smart speaker installation.

Posted by Ernie G on December 21, 2018

Re leggwork’s Dec 20 comment: Okay, but what Google and Amazon agree to about the uses of those recordings will have approximately zero effect on whether those recordings will be subpoenaed.

Posted by Paul Cunningham on December 21, 2018

So Oriigin Acoustic’s contraption that conceals a Dot as a ceiling speaker is no good, legally it seems

6 Comments
Posted by Paul Cunningham on December 21, 2018

So Oriigin Acoustic’s contraption that conceals a Dot as a ceiling speaker is no good, legally it seems

Posted by Ernie G on December 21, 2018

Re leggwork’s Dec 20 comment: Okay, but what Google and Amazon agree to about the uses of those recordings will have approximately zero effect on whether those recordings will be subpoenaed.

Posted by leggwork on December 20, 2018

I was getting at more about what those recordings can be used for.  As far as I’ve heard, Google/Amazon et al will require a court order to access the recordings made by an Echo or similar.  So I as a homeowner or even an integrator shouldn’t be held responsible for the fact that those devices can do recordings.  I suppose someone could hack into the data stream and make their own version of the recordings, but if you’re doing that, a covert microphone is a lot simpler to implement.  I would be **really** surprised if an integrator is held responsible for a hidden smart speaker installation.

Posted by Ernie G on December 19, 2018

I have recently unearthed about two hundred pounds of records made before 1920, many before 1920. Are they not recordings because “nobody can practically replay the recording”? There are pockets of fanatics here and there who have the means of playing back these recordings.

I cannot play several 16” transcription discs I have that were made in the 1940s—my tone arm assembly is less than 8” from the center of the records. Are they not recordings?

There are probably people in the digital sound realm who could play back the recordings made by “Hidden ‘Smart’ Speakers.”

Even if nobody we know has the capability of playing back these recordings, the very definition of the situation admits that they are recordings! Yeah, they are recordings.

I vaguely remember that there’s a book from perhaps the middle ages, written in a language that nobody has been able to decipher. Does that mean it’s not a book? Being unreadable does not null out its bookiness.

Posted by leggwork on December 19, 2018

but is it really “recording” when nobody can practically replay the recording?  Seems like the issue is more about what Google/Amazon et al agree to re not using the recordings for other than agreed-upon uses.  Are Echos illegal in states where all must assent - most lay people don’t realize that an Echo in plain sight is continuously recording/analysing the audio stream, let alone hidden.

Posted by Ernie G on December 19, 2018

“‘If anyone has a statute that prohibits audio in a covert camera we’d all like to hear about it,’ comments legal expert Ken Kirschenbaum….”

This is forbidden in at least those states where all parties to a conversation have to assent to its recording. Yes, it’s a camera, but while the statutes mentioned in the article refer to recording audio, this article does not refer in any way to the devices used to make such recordings, be they a mic, a hidden recorder, a camera, or a super-genius parrot.