24 September 2019
Rhetorical Analysis of A Murder Case Tests Alexa’s Devotion to Your Privacy
Have you ever had a best friend? Have you ever been betrayed? I am sure most of us have had a best friend and have felt the emotion betrayal. The people using Amazons Alexa, digital assistant, might be feeling this emotion soon. However, before they do, Amazon is taking steps to push back.
In his February 2017 Wired article A Murder Case Tests Alexas Devotion to Your Privacy, intellectual property lawyer Gerald Sauer argues that Alexa users should be more aware when around the voice assistant device. Sauer uses as his main cautionary example a case where the Arkansas police demanded Amazon turn over the recordings from a murder suspects Echo. Amazon wont just give the information over, Sauer informs, but the police must prove the need for the information and make sure they have no other sources. If the police pass this test, they will then go before a judge who will determine if they get access to the recordings, if any. It is commendable that Amazon uses the first amendment to protect your data that Echo collects, says Sauer, but why is the data being stored in Amazons servers? The digital assistant is ready whenever you use the trigger phrase to do whatever you ask such as, scheduling events and buying things off Amazon. Sauer explains, that when you talk to Alexa it
records everything and remembers what you say. These digital assistants are being purchased by millions of people who have no clue about the potential havoc these could bring. Sauer persuades, you to be aware of who, or what is listening to your recordings (1).
By writing this informative article, Sauer aims to inform his audience of the cons of having Alexa in your home. Sauer demonstrates strong persuasiveness reasoning in his article. Sauer establishes logos by providing examples and scenarios. However, it is the authors appeal to readers emotion that is most likely to persuade the readers to question the ethics of digital assistant devices.
Sauer informs his audience of the cons of having Alexa in your home. Before the example, Sauer, gives a brief introduction on the Alexa Echo and how it could potentially betray you. Following the introduction are questions that make you think about the trustworthiness of Alexa, Do you have to give informed consent to be recorded each time you enter my Alexa-outfitted home? Do I have to actively request your permission? And who, at Amazon or beyond, gets to see what tendencies are revealed by your Alexa commands? Amazon claims you can permanently delete the voice recordings, though wiping them degrades performance. Even if you’re smart enough to clear your browser history, are you smart enough to clear this, too? And what about the transcripts? (Sauer, 1) Sauer indicates that he himself has an Alexa Echo
and cares about the negative impacts as well. By establishing himself as an Alexa Echo device owner, Sauer positions himself to make emotional appeals to other Alexa users.
Sauer uses strong persuasiveness reasoning in his article by explaining an issue with how Alexa records and stores data that it collects in your home. Sauer asks the question, Why is all that data just sitting in Amazon’s servers in the first place? (1) Sauer shares that in a court case regarding a murder suspect’s Echo, Amazon confirmed that the recordings and transcripts of your dialogue with Alexa are saved on servers where “all data is protected during transmission and securely stored. (1) ” Sauer then poses the question, Should we just trust that Amazon’s servers are impenetrable? (1) By asking logical thought-provoking questions, Sauer persuades and reasons with his audience.
Sauer establishes logos by providing examples and scenarios on the cons of having Alexa in your home. Sauer tells us that Alexa, the voice assistant that powers Echo and more, is always listening, sending what you say after using a “wake” word to Amazon’s servers. Say you’re meeting with your attorney, confess you’ve had an affair with a woman named Alexa, and happen to say the trigger phrase (after all, more than 100,000 people born in the past 25 years were given that name). Who has access to that recording? Or what if, in a meeting, someone triggers the device to record the conversation without your permission? This would be legal, if unethical, in so-called
one-party consent states. (1) By including strong logic in his article, Sauer establishes logos and appeals to the audiences emotions.
Sauers appeal to readers emotion is most likely to persuade the readers to question the ethics of digital assistant devices. The threat of having everything you say recorded makes readers fearful that the Amazon Echo could impact them. At the end of the article, the author appeals to the readers, Millions of people are putting digital assistants in their lives with no clue about the potential havoc this Trojan horse could bring. Based on what Amazon and Google say about their devices, everyone needs to recognize the unresolved legal issues involving this new technology. Beware of who, or what, is listening. (Sauer, 1) By talking about the negative aspects of Alexa and asking his audience to beware, the author effectively persuades his audience.
I do agree with the author. The fact that it is a listening device and records everything you say and submits it to servers is quite concerning. When you delete the recordings it degrades Alexas performance, which persuades you to opt out of that step to have a quality digital assistant. Everyone who plans on buying the Amazon Alexa Echo needs to recognize the unanswered legal issues concerning this new technology. My family has been a part of Amazon Prime as a member for quite a few years now. We use Alexa on our fire TV stick. In this case Alexa only listens when we hold down a button. An error in this article would be not having any expert testimony. The authors use of examples and scenarios to portray his thoughts is his strength. I would be even more convinced of the cons of having Alexa in your home, if there were research charts or graphs.
Abraham 5Sauers purpose in writing this article was to persuade his audience of the cons of having Alexa in your home. Sauer demonstrates strong persuasiveness reasoning in his article. Sauer establishes logos by providing examples and scenarios. However, it is the authors appeal to readers emotion that is most likely to persuade the readers to question the ethics of digital assistant devices. Sauers rhetorical strategies made his letter an effective piece of persuasion.
Sauer, Gerald. A Murder Case Tests Alexa’s Devotion to Your Privacy. Wired, Conde Nast, 3 June 2017, www.wired.com/2017/02/murder-case-tests-alexas-devotion-privacy/.