Approaches for Digital Self Defence

As of January 2019, over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices had been sold. That’s 100 million users relying on Alexa to tweak their thermostats, stream their music and schedule their appointments. Whilst there are many who view these devices simply as helping hands - there are others who consider them to be Trojan horses in the age of digital surveillance. This project centres around those who view Alexa as both of these things; those who use Alexa, but do so with a looming paranoia about where their data might end up, and the purpose for which it might be used.

The outcome of the project, CounterBug, is a family of satirical accessories intended to confuse the algorithms of Amazon’s Alexa. CounterBug uses disinformation as a form of guerrilla data security, bombarding Alexa with false data - in turn protecting the user from the threats of state spying, vested corporate interest and potential criminal hackers.

Each accessory responds to a different form of surveillance paranoia; one to censor the user’s language so that they don’t get in trouble with the NSA, one to disrupt Amazon’s tailored advertising algorithms, and one that chats to Alexa about virtuous topics whilst they’re out the house.