Interesting article on Fox Business this AM about a new feature of Amazon’s Alexa that allows people to donate to a political campaign through the little internet connected smart speaker sitting on their kitchen counter.
I mean.. what could go wrong with that?
“With Alexa Political Contributions you can donate to participating 2020 U.S. presidential campaigns by simply saying “Alexa, I want to make a political contribution” or “Alexa, donate [amount] to [candidate name]”. Amazon Pay will process the donation using the information and default payment method stored in your Amazon account and will email you a receipt for your records,” the company wrote on its website to announce the program.
And how can we know that Amazon – which spent more than $14 million on lobbying and over $13 million in political contributions in 2018 – won’t use all of that political spending data to shape its own political spending strategy the way the company uses sales data to shape its marketing and product development?
Even without a team of government-backed hackers on their side, foreign parties may be able to manipulate this new Alexa feature through basic steps to mask their location and true identity, creating multiple – even thousands – of Amazon accounts for the purposes of donating to a candidate and influencing elections. A Prime account only costs $12.99 a month, a pittance to a nation intent on meddling in our elections.
What do you think?
I don’t know that technology in elections is a bad thing. But, I think it may be quickly drawing up to a line that we probably need to start questioning whether it should be crossed.