This gadget promises to stop Alexa and Google Home from spying on you

Estelle Sidler

Are you worried that your Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker is spying on you? A new device called Paranoid —  yup, that’s the name — might offer a little relief. All three Paranoid models block your smart speaker from listening to you until you say the Paranoid’s own wake […]

Are you worried that your Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker is spying on you? A new device called Paranoid —  yup, that’s the name — might offer a little relief.

All three Paranoid models block your smart speaker from listening to you until you say the Paranoid’s own wake word, “Paranoid”, after which the gizmo lets the smart speaker listen in. 

The simplest Paranoid device, the Home Button, sits on your Amazon Echo’s Mute button and keeps it pressed. The intermediate one, the Home Wave, jams the microphones on Echo and Google Home devices. 

The most complicated setup, the Home Max, has you ship your smart speaker to Paranoid headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta. There, Paranoid’s technicians will snip the speaker’s microphone cable and attach it to an external Paranoid device, then ship the speaker back to you.

Despite the different levels of work involved, all three devices list for $49 U.S., temporarily marked down to $39 during the “introductory pre-sale” period. The Paranoid company says its devices will soon support other devices besides Amazon Echo and Google Home.

‘Hack-proof’? We’ll see…

Paranoid has no Wi-Fi, no antenna, no Bluetooth, no SIM card and no wireless capability of any kind, and the company boasts on Paranoid website that the device is “hack-proof”.  

Those are usually famous last words, but an article on the Paranoid site invites hackers to bring it on. (There does seem to be a way to update the Paranoid firmware, so perhaps that’s an angle.)

“Paranoid operates in blissful solitude, completely cut off from the online world,” the company says. That cheeky attitude continues in the promotional video made to introduce the product. 

It has an angry alien (he looks like Cryptosporidium from the Destroy All Humans video games) sitting inside a smart speaker named “Orwell” and listening in on a family’s conversations to send them targeted ads — until the sarcastic son recommends Paranoid.

The Paranoid seems like a pretty cheap, simple solution to smart-speaker privacy woes. The only thing that would be even cheaper and simpler would be not having a smart speaker at all.

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