All Your Privacy Are Belong to Amazon

Apparently taking a cue from the latest Facebook mobile update, Amazon’s new Fire Phone has a feature that essentially lets the gigantic corporate monolith store photos, video, and audio from the device in their cloud servers, automatically, forever.

Beware the Firefly

The culprit behind this bit of not-quite-hidden privacy invasion is the phone’s Firefly app, a brand new jam from Amazon that can identify books, movies, games, songs, QR codes, and more by aiming the Fire Phone’s camera at whatever it is and pressing the Firefly button. Reportedly, the Firefly system can identify over 100 million objects, movies, and songs in real-time; ambient audio files are created with every phone and video.

Language translation is in the works, as well. Likely only for written languages, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if Amazon had a real-time audio translator in the works, as well. But that would be incredibly useful and helpful to people, and couldn’t otherwise be readily monetized, so there’s no way Amazon would give away that feature for free.

"And you'll PAY US for this invasion of privacy!" *maniacal laugh*

“And you’ll pay US to invade your privacy!” *laughs maniacally*

The Firefly app, of course, utilizes the same camera with which Fire Phone users will also take countless selfies and pictures of their brunch. And while none of your personal photos or videos will be sent to the Firefly system’s cloud (supposedly), every file you create with Firefly will be automatically transmitted to Amazon’s cloud and stored there until the end of days, or until you delete them manually, whichever comes first.

Undeleted photos and files (so, most of them that will ever exist) will be used to constantly enhance the Firefly service. Also, GPS location data will be recorded—you guessed it—automatically, so that’s fun and not at all Big Brothery.

Pros vs. At Least One VERY Big Con

By all accounts, the Amazon Fire is a real humdinger of an intelligent cellular telephone. Or buying-stuff-from-Amazon-super-easily device that also does some smartphone stuff. Whatever.

The Fire Phone runs, unsurprisingly, Fire OS, a mutation of the Android operating system that keeps users’ alerts front and center, showing emails, texts, and something called voicemail (?) messages on the home screen. It has a 3D screen that provides a better screen viewing perspective from any angle. It comes with a free year of Amazon Prime service because of course it does.

Are these and the pantload of other features enough to cancel out the huge invasion of privacy you’re inviting by using the Firefly feature? That decision’s on you, folks. But I think I’ll stick with my Motorola Razor flip phone, thank you very much.

Photo credit: KoFahu meets the Mitropa / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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