Amazon's Echo Show strips you of your last shred of privacy
Commentary: Amazon's new touchscreen/smart speaker has a feature called Drop In. It isn't just creepy. It's asking for trouble.
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.
Video: Don't panic over Amazon's automatic video calls
I've spent a sleepless 24 hours worrying about getting caught naked.
Because how many people do I actually want seeing me in the buff?
I understand that privacy is as ancient a concept as civility, but Amazon's newtakes the idea of nothing being private to a new level.
It has a feature called Drop In. It basically lets certain people snoop on you through your Echo Show.
Essentially, these people magically appear on your screen at any time. You'll show up blurred for just 10 seconds, during which you must scramble to decide if you want to disable the camera or reject the call. If you make no decision, that's that.
It's as if they've shown up to, um, borrow a cup of sugar but don't need to ring your doorbell. They just walk straight in and say, "Oh, Chris. What do you think you're doing?"
I know you'll argue that you must pre-approve those who can barge right in. But haven't you ever agreed to something a while back that suddenly rears its ugly behind and makes your life a misery?
Think of that disturbing blind date you went on. Or pretty much any app's terms and conditions you've ever signed.
Some will think this Echo Show feature useful for those who, say, worry about an elderly person and would like to check in on them regularly.
But the sheer notion of someone suddenly appearing on your screen -- perhaps when you least expect or want them -- makes my innards emit severe emojis in the direction of Amazon.
What if you're singing your favorite Marvin Gaye song while playing, you know, dress-up? You might not even hear or see your Show showing your visitor way too much.
What if you're talking to yourself or a loved one about the very person who suddenly butts in and realizes you consider him or her a heartless miser, a poor friend or a dangerous psychotic?
Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Imagine, too, some enterprising -- or just bored -- hacker creeping into your Echo Show and enjoying your show a little too intimately.
This is the future, of course. There's nothing we can do to stop it, apparently, because that's what the (social) engineers have decided.
Perhaps Amazon is trying to make this privacy-free future more reassuring by making the Echo Show look like a 12-year-old's school project, cobbled together from stuff bought via Radio Shack's Twitter account.
The Drop In feature, however, makes me want to drop out and move somewhere where the cameras won't find me.
There is still somewhere like that, isn't there?
Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about VR.
CNET en Español: Get all your tech news and reviews in Spanish.