You Can Now Hack Alexa Thanks To The Copyright Office

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Voice assistants are not something that you think of owning. They’re a distinct personality that you interact with, drawing knowledge from the greater internet. However, when you get right down to it, Alexa and Siri are just programs. They come installed on your gadgets and run on code. In fact, you can get them to do some pretty funky things with the right know-how. While tweaking with virtual assistants may you may have gotten into some trouble in the past, the copyright office is on our side now. According to a recent proposal, jailbreaking the voices that fact-check bar bets for us is now perfectly legal.

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The law being tweaked is section 1201 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This forbids end users from circumventing locks put on products by the manufacturers. The law’s broad nature has raised all sorts of issues for home tinkerers. Everyone from those who want to backup media they own to farmers who want to repair tractors affordably has been affected. Every few years, Congress hears testimony from these folks asking for common sense solutions to these tough problems. In this case, many of the suggestions got through, and DIY specialists have a few more legal avenues to follow.

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Jailbreaking Alexa-powered gadgets is just the beginning, too. This ruling, which goes into effect as of Oct. 28, has wide-reaching consequences for anyone who owns smart gadgets. There is now a general exemption for repairing smartphones and other home devices. This lets shops repair and restore devices bricked by the manufacturer for being out of date. You’ll no longer have to worry about buying a home security system that stops detecting after a system-wide update. You can also now unlock and tinker with phones out of the box, and those tractor owners can now tweak the software in their vehicles.

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Of course, you can expect that the companies providing you with all this tech are going to fight back. For example, if you tear apart an Alexa and try to program in new commands, Amazon may detect that and shut off the normal service. Since most virtual assistants are run by corporations, it may be hard to customize them as of now. However, if the scene gets big enough, you can expect an open source database to take up the mantle and provide a new option for those savvy enough to find it.