Alexa Knows About You … Everything!

Amazon Alexa Wants To Spy On Your Family’s Health

By MassPrivateI

If ever there was a red flag story about Amazon’s Alexa then this is it.

If you watch the “Alexa for Medical Care Advice” video posted below, you will hear Alexa asking Peggy, to “tell me about the symptoms or problems that are troubling you the most.”

Divulging your health issues to a private corporation is extremely troubling as you will see.

Let’s start with the obvious concerns and talk about something you will not see in the video.

Like Peggy telling Alexa, it is none of Amazon’s business what her health concerns are and Alexa should stop listening to everything she says.

But many Americans do not have an issue with Alexa listening to their everyday conversations and have no problem asking Alexa health questions. Because, ‘they have nothing to hide’ — and therein lies the problem.

I challenge anyone to walk up to a stranger while recording the conversation and ask them about their health issues and see what happens. And if you really want to see what happens ask them about their kids’ health issues, etc. Would anyone like to guess what their response will be?

So if a stranger refuses to discuss their personal health issues with someone they do not know, why on earth would they trust Amazon?

Earlier this month, Amazon officially introduced “Alexa Healthcare Skills” which transmits and receives personal healthcare information.

But Alexa Healthcare does much more than just transmit and receive healthcare information.

Alexa can now call pharmacies, spy on kids and your blood sugar.

  • Express Scripts (a leading Pharmacy Services Organization): Members can check the status of a home delivery prescription and can request Alexa notifications when their prescription orders are shipped.
  • Cigna Health Today (by Cigna, the global health service company): Eligible employees with one of Cigna’s large national accounts can now manage their health improvement goals and increase opportunities for earning personalized wellness incentives.
  • My Children’s Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) (by Boston Children’s Hospital, a leading children’s hospital): Parents and caregivers of children in the ERAS program at Boston Children’s Hospital can provide their care teams updates on recovery progress and receive information regarding their post-op appointments.
  • Swedish Health Connect (by Providence St. Joseph Health, a healthcare system with 51 hospitals across 7 states and 829 clinics): Customers can find an urgent care center near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
  • Atrium Health (a healthcare system with more than 40 hospitals and 900 care locations throughout North and South Carolina and Georgia): Customers in North and South Carolina can find an urgent care location near them and schedule a same-day appointment.
  • Livongo (a leading consumer digital health company that creates new and different experiences for people with chronic conditions): Members can query their last blood sugar reading, blood sugar measurement trends, and receive insights and Health Nudges that are personalized to them.

A few reasons to be concerned about Amazon Healthcare:

1.) Amazon is a for-profit corporation that makes its money by putting listening devices inside people’s homes.

Bloomberg revealed that a global team of Amazon workers is listening to people’s conversations.

Amazon.com Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices.

An article at Medium warns: Amazon listens to everything.

Imagine your horror as you open the attachments and begin listening to the recordings: A discussion of what to have for dinner, two children arguing over a toy, a woman talking to her partner as she gets into the shower.

2.) Besides the obvious privacy concerns of putting Alexa in your home, Alexa can be easily hacked and turned into an eavesdropping device.

When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through network to the attacker.

3.) Amazon’s Healthcare partners act as though listening to people’s conversations is an act of benevolence.

“We believe voice technology, like Alexa, can make it easy for people to stay on the right path by tracking the status of their mail order prescription,” said Mark Bini, Vice President of Innovation and Member Experience, Express Scripts.

Mark Bini got one thing right: helping “people stay on the right path” will mean an increase in corporate profits as they data mine everything said by you and your family.

Cigna’s claim that divulging your personal health issues to Alexa allows customers to receive ” personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals” is just another way of saying corporate spying.

“Personalized wellness incentives” is corporate jargon for sending you advertising or increasing a person’s health insurance premiums if they do not meet their health goals.

Amazon did not become the most valuable company in the world by helping people. The only reason why Amazon and its partners care about your healthcare is so they can profit from it.

You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.

from:    https://www.activistpost.com/2019/04/amazon-alexa-spy-family-health.html

How DOES amazon Do It?

Accidents at Amazon: workers left to suffer after warehouse injuries

Workers pack and ship customer orders at the Amazon fulfillment center Romeoville, Illinois on 1 August 2017. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Guardian investigation reveals numerous cases of Amazon workers being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income after workplace accidents

by

Vickie Shannon Allen, 49, started working at Amazon as a counter in a fulfillment warehouse at Haslet, Texas, in May 2017. At first, like many employees, Allen was excited by the idea of working for one of the fastest growing corporations in the world. That feeling dissipated quickly after a few months.

“I noticed managers would ask you questions all the time about any bathroom breaks, performance and productivity. What they do is code your time, and they are allowed to change it at will. To me, that’s how they get rid of people,” Allen said.

Amazon is now the world’s most valuable retailer. Its customers are served by over 140 fulfillment centers like the one where Allen worked across the US. The revenues from these centers have made founder Jeff Bezos the world’s richest man – Bezos’ net worth recently crossed the $150bn, making him the wealthiest person in history, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

In the meantime, Allen has become homeless after a workplace accident left her unable to do her job.

Nor is Allen alone. A Guardian investigation has revealed numerous cases of Amazon workers suffering from workplace accidents or injuries in its gigantic warehouse system and being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income.

Allen’s story began on 24 October last year when she injured her back counting goods on a workstation that was missing a brush guard, a piece of safety equipment meant to prevent products from falling onto the floor. She used a tote bin to try to compensate for the missing brush guard, and hurt her back while counting in an awkward position. The injury was the beginning of an ongoing ordeal she is still working to amend at Amazon. Over the course of a few weeks, Amazon’s medical triage area gave her use of a heating pad to use on her back, while Amazon management sent her home each day without pay until Allen pushed for workers compensation.

“I tried to work again, but I couldn’t stretch my right arm out and I’m right-handed. So I was having a hard time keeping up. This went on for about three weeks,” Allen said. Despite not getting paid, Allen was spending her own money to drive 60 miles one way to the warehouse each day just to be sent home.

Once on workers compensation, Allen started going to physical therapy. In January 2018, she returned to work and injured herself again on the same workstation that still was not fixed.

Allen went back on medical leave and took an additional two weeks of unpaid leave because she didn’t have the money to drive to work. In April 2018, an MRI scan showed her back was still injured, but just five days after her diagnosis, she claims Amazon’s workers compensation insurer, Sedgwick, had the company doctor drop her as a patient.

“By June 2018, they finally had that station fixed. It took them eight months to put one little brush guard on this station,” Allen said. On 2 July, she met with management at the Amazon fulfillment center, who offered her a week of paid leave for the issues she had to deal with over the past nine months.

“They’re also going to pay me for 24 more hours for last week. They haven’t said anything else,” Allen explained. ”They offered me a buyout, only for $3,500, which meant I would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to not say anything derogatory about Amazon or my experience.”

Pinterest

Allen said she rejected the buyout offer to speak out against Amazon’s treatment of her. She currently lives out of her car in the parking lot of the Amazon fulfillment center. “They cost me my home, they screwed me over and over and I go days without eating.”

Allen’s case is one of numerous reports from Amazon workers of being improperly treated after an avoidable work injury. Amazon’s warehouses were listed on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s “dirty dozen” list of most dangerous places to work in the United States in April 2018. The company made the list due to its pattern of unsafe working conditions and its focus on productivity and efficiency over the safety and livelihood of its employees. Amazon’s emphasis on fulfilling a high demand of orders has resulted in unsafe working conditions for its warehouse employees.

In April 2018, 43-year-old Bryan Hill of Seffner, Florida filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging managers fired him for hurting his back on the job and failed to file a workers compensation claim once his injury was reported. “It’s been scheduled for mediation in September, and we’re in a holding pattern until then,” said Miguel Bouzas, the attorney representing Hill in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Hill was told by a manager he was too young to have back problems, and he was fired before Amazon Human Resources would authorize a doctor visit.

At an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Pennsylvania, one former employee was fired five weeks after getting injured on the job. “I was on a ladder and someone came flying into the area I was in, hit the ladder causing me to fall, and I landed on my back and left leg,” said Christina Miano-Wilburn. Her back is permanently injured from the incident. “They refused to give me the paperwork for workmen’s comp. They cut my short term disability after five weeks. I was supposed to get it for 26 weeks.”

Miano-Wilburn was notified of her job termination through a letter in the mail in May 2017 after working at Amazon for two years. She lost her home shortly after being fired from Amazon.

Other Amazon employees succumb to the fatigue and exhaustion of the fulfillment center work environment and quit before getting injured. “I felt they thought I was faking. I was dehydrated and dizzy,” said Lindsai Florence Johnson, who was taken away in an ambulance in April during a hot day while working at an Amazon fulfillment center in San Bernardino, California. She quit in May 2018 over mistreatment after starting in June 2017. “Not all people report injuries because they are scared to get taken off their job or told they can’t work over there anymore. I have many times come home with bruises from work at Amazon and I experienced my first hernia there.”

In many cases, Amazon workers are left to deal with the temp agency that hired them, shifting the burden of responsibility to a third party and making it more difficult for workers to receive proper treatment and compensation. For nearly three years, Michael Yevtuck has been in and out of court over a workers compensation claim against Integrity Staffing, who hired him to work in a Robbinsville, New Jersey based Amazon fulfillment center.

“I was squatting full speed and going up the step ladder as many times as I could an hour to try to hit the rates. All that squatting hurt my left knee, so I favored the other one and hurt that one,” said Yevtuck, who hurt his knees in November 2015.

An Amazon company doctor recommended he return to work on light duty and gave him braces for each knee. Yevtuck provided documents corroborating his medical diagnoses from Amazon company doctors and private doctors. “As soon as I came back, the supervisor returned me back to a job that was full duty and I reinjured both knees.”

He added Amazon told him to return to work, or work a light duty job if he signed a form stating his injuries occurred prior to working at Amazon. An MRI he received in April 2016 from a private doctor noted he tore the meniscus in his left knee, but Amazon would not pay his medical fees or accept his workers compensation filing. His next court date in his legal efforts to obtain workers compensation and medical reimbursement from Amazon is in September 2018.

Amazon meanwhile insists that ensuring the safety of its workers is a priority and that it was “proud” of its record.

“Amazon has created over 130,000 jobs in the last year alone and now employs over 560,000 people around the world. Ensuring the safety of these associates is our number one priority,” said Amazon spokesperson Melanie Etches in an email, who also pointed to the firm’s Safety Leadership Program as an example of being proactive on the issue.

“Operational meetings, new hire orientation, process training and new process development begin with safety and have safety metrics and audits integrated within each program … While any serious incident is one too many, we learn and improve our programs working to prevent future incidents,” Etches said.

  • This article was amended on 30 July 2018 to correct the name of the city of Haslet, Texas.

from:    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/30/accidents-at-amazon-workers-left-to-suffer-after-warehouse-injuries

Huge Jump in Amazon Deforestation

Amazon deforestation jumps 28% in a year

Deforestation has risen exponentially after years of decline, with environmentalists attributing this change to the easing of laws in Brazil.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Nov. 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Deforestation in the Amazon has reached a new high after years of declining numbers, owing to the easing of environmental laws in Brazil.(CC/Alex Rio Brazil)
Nov. 15 (UPI) — Brazil has acknowledged a 28 percent rise in deforestation of the ecologically sensitive Amazon forest, between August 2012 and July 2013.The rise has been blamed on changes made to Brazil’s forest protection law. The country uses to sattelite imagery to track the decline of the country’s forest cover and is particularly shocking considering it recorded its lowest deforestation levels last year.

Initial statistics point to 2,255 sq miles of forest lost as compared to 1,765 sq miles lost in the previous 12 months. This rise ends a streak of declining deforestation which began in 2009 but does not come close to the loss in 2004 — nearly 10,500 sq. miles of forest were lost.

Environmentalists say the controversial reform of the forest protection law in 2012 is to blame for the trend in Brazil. The changes reduced protected areas in farms and declared an amnesty for areas destroyed before 2008.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeir called the destruction of the Amazon “unacceptable” and a “crime,” but denied allegations that President Dilma Rousseff‘s administration was to blame.

“This swing is not related to any federal government fund cuts for law enforcement,” she said.

A majority of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions has been linked to the rapid deforestation of the Amazon. These figures undermine the pledge made by Brazil in 2009 to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80% by the year 2020.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Blog/2013/11/15/Amazon-deforestation-jumps-28-in-a-year/9911384535388/#ixzz2kx1HIZBk