Predicted headline date: 12/08/2018
Stockholm, 12 August 2018: Voice assistant in car leads to driver’s arrest
A driver was arrested in Stockholm when he exceeded the speed limit by 90km/h in Storskogen, a residential suburb of Stockholm. The driver, Räcklösa Rumphål, became argumentative with the traffic official, Föreskrifter Ochre. Mr. Rumphål would not adhere to the requests of the traffic official and started questioning the accuracy of the speed camera used to determine his speed. He wanted to see the quality assurance certificate used for the equipment, the maintenance certificate and the competence certificate of the official using the equipment. His protestations were however short-circuited when the official directly asked the car what its highest speed was in the past hour. The car responded with a figure that was exactly the same as the speed camera reading. The driver was arrested on the spot, partly based on the independent confirmation from the car that the reading was correct. The report did not indicate if it was Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or another UPA (Ubiquitous Personal Assistant) that spilled the beans on its owner.
The lawyer for the driver, Ms. Otillförlitlig Shyster expressed her displeasure with both the traffic official and the company behind the UPA. “Firstly, the traffic official had no right to enter into a conversation with the vehicle without the express prior approval of the owner “, said Ms. Shyster. “It is a clear case of impersonation, as the UPA in the car was unaware that it was divulging private information to a third party. We believe that the conversation that a user has with his UPA is a private one, be it in connection with the UPA linked to his house, phone, car, door, air conditioner or fridge”. She further stated that there is legal protection that agents of the government cannot listen in on private conversations without a court order, even if it is between an individual and his UPA.
“We believe that this applies to agents of the government impersonating an individual and allowing their UPA to divulge information that may lead to their owner being compromised in any way.”
UPAs became extremely popular in homes from 2015 onwards, and exploded into various other forms including cars, fridges, cameras, drones and even suitcases. As voice replaced touch as the primary interface into the Internet and into the Internet of Things, a variety of strange and unforeseen incidents have challenged the wisdom behind some of the applications of the UPA. Amazon originally did not require a password if someone wanted to purchase anything via Alexa. This however changed quickly as teenagers started ordering sex toys on their neighbour’s Alexa by shouting orders through open windows. It seems that in this case, some changes to the UPA might be forthcoming.