Op-ed pick: Is your phone spying on you?

Even though most Americans disapprove of the NSA surveillance program, Amazon is betting that most of us not only don’t mind being monitored, we’ll pay to be observed.

Here’s how Joshua Kopstein sums up Amazon’s new Fire phone’s capabilities in Al Jazeera:

It’s ironic that a year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden sparked international anxieties about government spying, (Amazon’s Jeff) Bezos is selling a phone that features not one or two but six cameras. Four of those cameras are forward facing and are capable of advanced head tracking and face detection, something Bezos said took the company four years to develop. They support an innocuous-sounding app called Firefly, which uses the phone’s cameras and microphone to watch, scan and listen to everything around the user. If you’re listening to music or watching a movie, the app will automatically identify and log your selections. Firefly even uses the phone’s camera mode to identify and save all the objects you come across in the physical environment, such as the books in your house, the landmarks you visit while sightseeing and the paintings you see at the museum. (Bezos says the app can recognize up to 100 million items.)

It may seem novel and quirky, but the message is clear: Amazon wants to turn every moment of your life into an opportunity to buy stuff.

Read the rest of Kopsteins’ op-ed here.