Google Home: It’s Not Just for NSA Spies!

“Eduardo Barros was house-sitting with his girlfriend and her daughter Sunday night at a residence in Tijeras, some 15 miles east of Albuquerque,” reports.  “The couple got into an argument and the altercation became physical.”

Barros allegedly wielded a firearm and threatened to kill his girlfriend, asking her: “Did you call the sheriffs?”

Time to call the cavalry! Or let Google Home do it for you.

A smart speaker, which was hooked up to a surround sound system inside the home, recognized that as a voice command and called 911, Romero said.

The sheriff’s department said deputies arrived on scene and were able to remove the woman and her daughter from the residence. The woman sustained injuries from the altercation but was not taken to a hospital. Her daughter was unharmed, according to Romero.

A crisis negotiation team, as well as a SWAT team, were deployed to the home and were able to take Barros into custody after an hours-long stand-off, Romero said.

We don’t know of any instances where a Google Home or Echo user inadvertently swatted themselves, but you have been warned. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t let those two talk to each other, either.


  1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

    Who buys this stuff? Or is it just cool technology that I don’t understand?

    1. avatar Doktor says:

      waiting for the Apple Home for this house. No big brother until activated.

      1. avatar General Mills says:

        Do what I do. Live off grid and far from cell service. Won’t last forever but my world is a peaceful happy one. Except for the Colombian drug dealer airstrips and the grizzly bears. And the occasional lost tourist.

      2. avatar neiowa says:

        RIght because Apple wouldn’t…..

        Or sell suckers overpriced crat.

    2. avatar Boba Fett says:

      I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but there’s nothing cool about an electronic device that listens to everything you say. If it has the ability to recognize speech and contact any emergency personnel at all, then there’s no telling where your conversations will end up, and how they’ll be used. Knowing everything we know about the surveillance apparatus used by our federal government, how much of our personal preferences are sorted and archived, it baffles me that anyone would ever buy something like this. Truly amazing. I put this right in the same category as smart guns; just way, way too ripe for abuse.

    3. avatar Matt S says:

      Who buys this stuff ? It’s 2017. Millions of people buy this stuff.

  2. avatar The Dude Abides says:

    The day my electronics snitch me out to the fuzz is the day they meet Mr. sledgehammer.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      Enjoy your trip to Harbor Freight, then. They’re all listening:

      The suspect in this case has voluntarily handed over his Echo data:

      If he hadn’t, his data would have been at the mercy of Amazon. Not a place I want to be.

  3. avatar Hannibal says:

    Yeah, it’s not supposed to work like that; and there’s usually a confirmation “i.e. CALLING SHERIFF!” so I’m thinking that there’s a passive code built in to alert the authorities in just such a situation.

    I mean… it’s hard to be upset in this particular case but then again I also would never be the kind of person to have something like that around.

  4. avatar Robert McMahan says:

    I bought an “Echo”. I spent several hours playing with it the first day, then forgot about it. It turns out, much of what it does can also be done by a smart phone. In any case, I found myself using the smart phone to identify stuff I wanted to ask “Echo” to play.

  5. avatar FedUp says:

    Bezos: Alexa, buy me some fresh ground coffee from Whole Foods.

    Echo: Buying Whole Foods.

    Bezos: Oh, Sh*t.

    1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

      Now that was funny!

      I actually use the hell out of “Okay Google” but I have always wondered if it was spying on me,or at least listening for key words.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Google? No couldn’t be. They wouldn’t track you…

      2. avatar Snatchums says:

        If you use ANY kind of service that uses voice recognition anymore then everything you say within range is parsed and possibly logged. Now granted there is only like a .0000000001% chance of any of that ever actually being observed by a human just by virtue of the sheer volume of data collected, but with deep learning AI they will be able to build a complete profile of you within a couple years.

    2. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Dang that was funny!

  6. avatar Geoff PR says:

    No way in *hell* do I want an open microphone in my home on 24-7-365, that connects to who-knows-where before Amazon gets the feed…

    1. avatar binder says:

      Then don’t buy one, and while you at it, get rid of your cell phone, laptop and tablet while you are at it.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        None of those are directly connected to the ‘Amazon Borg’ by design…

        1. avatar Boba Fett says:

          On top of that, the average person can alter and modify those other devices to mitigate their invasive capabilities, at the very least. I highly doubt these listening devices have the same options. Even as I type this, I feel like I’m describing the apparatus from some spy-movie-nightmare-come-true. A real-time recording of everything I say being transmitted into cyberspace to be received by entities that will probably never be revealed to me? No fucking thank you. And don’t even get me started on the “I have nothing to hide” crowd.

      2. avatar Dan in CO says:

        Just maybe you can not pretend that the options you threw out are the same as this device.

      3. avatar California Richard says:

        +1 if you ever have to use remote tech support, you’ll see how creepy it is when someone else can control your device from half way around the world, including your cameras, mics, speakers, etc. 911 can remotely activate your home and cell phones in “exigencies” to listen in on whats going on in your house.

  7. avatar former water walker says:

    Yeah I REALLY want Big Brother 24/7…glad she’sOK. Does it pick a decent fella’ too?!?

  8. avatar fiun dagner says:

    cue California requiring these to report Firearms owners anytime guns are mentioned in the home and automatically instituting Firearms risk protection orders

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    There will come a day when Alexa and Siri join with Skynet to wipe out humankind. When that day comes, we will long for the days when we used to Ask Jeeves.

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      “when we used to use AskJeeves” when the hell was that?

      1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

        circa 2000 askjeeves was not crap. it soon devolved into crap.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      But no one will ever pine for the days when AltaVista was top of the heap.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Lycos. And it’s still around.

        1. avatar HP says:

          This is fun! I was more of a Webcrawler and Excite guy myself.

      2. avatar doesky2 says:

        1) I remember the lunch when someone described to me and others….”Well there is this thing called a hyperlink….”
        2) Some weeks later I remember the lab technician proudly showing me all the p0rn he found
        3) I remember the OUTRAGE!! that some company dared to ADVERTISE! on the internet!

      3. avatar Malcolm says:

        9600 baud dialup to BB with ASCII Text, breep breep shhhhhhh ching chong ching chong zzzzzzzzzzzzzzd

        Ah, the sound is like a lullaby.

        1. avatar Danny Griffin says:

          9600 baud? You young whipper snappers and your high speed devices.

        2. avatar Big Bill says:

          I remember 300 baud, and you had to put the handpiece in the cradle.
          And, if you had more than one phone in the house(!), and someone picked up the other phone, you had to start all over again.

    3. avatar Ed says:

      With any luck, by then I’ll have my phased plasma rifle in 40 watt range!

      1. avatar Rick says:

        Why does everyone seem to want the plasma rifle in only 40 watt? If you’re going to go with the best, why not go big, say 100 watt?

        1. avatar Hank says:

          Everyone knows 45 watt will steal your soul!

        2. avatar Malcolm says:

          You have to have cryogenic cooling for that power rating so its much heavier…

    4. avatar neiowa says:

      It’s now named “FirstNet” and this week Virginia agreed to be the 1st State to rollout. HD mesh network for “law enforcement” “communications”. Gov’t counterpart to the cell phone networks.

      Among other “features” will allow real time streaming/transfer of video from carcams and body cams. Tied to facial recognition software (those nifty digital drivers license photos you allowed).

  10. avatar MDH says:

    Great technology if your goal is to have your every waking and sleeping utterance recorded, meta tagged, and indexed.
    This of course in addition to every cell phone call, text message, video chat, message board post, “anonymous” opinion email and every other manner of electronic communication and transaction.

    Every aspect of our lives are being cataloged, and recorded, on a scale that defies imagination or measurement.

    When I was a kid, I was taught that God hears and sees everything I do, say, and think.

    I used to wonder about that, but now that Google and the NSA sees and hears everything I think, do, and say – I don’t worry about it anymore.

  11. avatar Model66 says:

    This incident may have SAVED JUST ONE LIFE!!! So shouldn’t the government now force us all to have these in our homes?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Nah. Only black lives matter.

    2. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      Oh, and Winston: all the way down to your toes!

  12. avatar Matt in FL says:

    Relevant xkcd, because there’s always a relevant xkcd.

    1. avatar Timmy! says:

      Damn, now I want creamed corn!

  13. avatar James Ivy says:

    This little piece is why I read ttag daily, glad there ok but I wonder how the outcome would have been if it was any of the arguments I’ve ever had which have been heated but violence free nonetheless, this can be chalked up as a win for technology which unfortunately can further the cause we need to keep an eye on when it doesn’t go right.

  14. avatar JDH says:

    Joke from Twitter:

    My wife asked why I carry a gun around the house. I told her: fear of CIA. She laughed, I laughed, the Amazon Echo laughed. I shot the Echo.

    1. avatar FlamencoD says:

      Good one, this made me laugh

    2. avatar Defens says:

      But I did not shoot the deputy.

  15. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Man, that thing works better than Siri…

    I cannot get that b*tch to navigate me anywhere without her trying to FaceTime someone or call some random place first.

  16. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    No smart-ass devices in my house now or in the future. I don’t know anyone who actually uses Siri, including the millenial daughter and fiance. While I do have smartphones, computers, a laser on one gun and a red dot on another, my guns also have iron sights and always will.

  17. avatar WRH says:

    Eric Blair tried to warn us but we wouldn’t listen. Instead we welcomed it into our homes in the name of convenience.

  18. avatar Hank says:

    Glad she’s ok but I’ll never participate in that whole google or Alexa thing. Same with smart cars. At least with a smart phone I can still just toss it out the window or flush it, it it ever decides to turn on me.

  19. avatar Reggie says:

    Gang, this is the equivalent of gun muggles saying the “gun just went off”. This story DID NOT go down as described.

    And as far as Google Home listening to everything you do; it doesn’t. All smart devices need your home internet to function, with a modicum of tech know-how you can view everything being transmitted and received from a particular device. That’s how Samsung and Vizio, et al got busted with their Smart TVs listening in constantly.

    1. avatar FulMetlJakit says:

      So, trust the device, (whose primary purpose is to log all of your data) to honestly tell you everything it is tracking… and then use verified examples of like devices from “more” reputable companies who flagrantly violated said “agreement” as proof…
      Yup, makes sense.

      1. avatar Reggie says:

        All the data it sends anywhere or receives has to go through your router. You can see what every device on your home network is doing. Has nothing to do with trust. The examples I gave were instances where companies were busted expressly because it is impossible to hide such activity when you control the network (in this case your home network).

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          Except it is established the NSA (at a minimum) can remotely turn on any “features” on any of these stupid “devices” at any will. Think the local popo won’t sign up for the how to seminars?

  20. avatar Warlocc says:

    As someone else said… That’s not really how it works. There’s some part of that story that we’re not being told.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Yeah, this doesn’t sound right. In fact, in the FAQs for the Google Home product, they specifically say that the device can’t call 911. There’s definitely some details missing here.

  21. avatar Erik says:

    Total FakeNews. At this point the sheriff is a liar or extremely stupid. Maybe the sheriff and the woman had a thing going and her husband caught them. The sheriff is now trying to cover his hind end up with this story. That would be more plausible.

  22. avatar Palehorse says:

    .gov’s theory on intelligence and info catch it all so you can know it all…

  23. avatar Old Region Fan says:

    Welcome my son….. Welcome to the machine !

    1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      What did you dream? That’s alright, we told you what to dreeeeam.

  24. avatar Big Bill says:

    Google is your friend.
    Without more technology involved than Google Home comes with, it can’t call 911.
    Neither LEOs nor reporters are especially tech-savvy, so we don’t really know what happened, what hardware was used, or if this even happened at all as described.
    Think: If Google Home could (reliably) call 911, it would be a major selling point. As well, if Google Home could call 911, there would be a lot more of them, and this wouldn’t be news.
    “Car able to stop before killing pedestrian! Film at eleven!”

  25. avatar Joe R. says:

    Don’t you feel less mad about Hillary Clinton’s Bathroom Yoga Server giving the world U.S. secrets.


    3 laws of robotics:

  26. avatar D Wright Downs says:

    I have not been without a German Shepherd dog since 1981. They traveled with me in the military and have been my constant source of defense. I do not trust electronic surveillance or most things electronic, especially in my home. Don’t need a talking refrig or any other creepy things. Especially don’t need mechanical voices to really creep me out.Dog barks are more intuitive. Keep google in its place. I am armed when the going gets tough.

  27. avatar D Wright Downs says:

    I have had a GSDs since 1981 as my first line of defense. I don’t need artificial intelligence provided by google or any other company to invade my home. I can trust the dogs but not the companies. I have a flip phone and don’t need anything else to just get phone calls. If anyone harms my dogs, they will answer to a higher authority, my shotgun. I was an NCO in the Army and keep things simple. Don’t need any screwed up technology to make things complicated.

  28. avatar KBonLI says:

    The first report was that it was Amazon the second was that it was Google. Then they said it was tied to a “Land line” which is impossible. Amazon can only dial contacts in your cell phone that also have an Amazon unit. Both devices require a “Wake up” command before responding. There is so much wrong with this that I call BS on the report.

  29. avatar Just Someguy says:

    Having everything in your house connected sounds like a terrible idea between the huge favor it hands to robbers and the microphones that it gives to Big Brother.

  30. avatar TRUBRIT says:

    I was telling my Wife about this incident two days ago and happened to be standing by our Alexa. It was playing music at the time, right until I said the words about calling the sheriff. The music stopped and the blue lights started to change, which is the point I started yelling ALEX OFF….ALEXA OFF! So, no BS. Be careful what you say.

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