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Should Burger King Be Prosecuted For Their Google Home-Triggering Ads? (washingtonpost.com) 448

Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein thinks Burger King should be prosecuted for successfully running an alternate version of its advertisement to trigger Google Home devices again Wednesday: Someone -- or more likely a bunch of someones -- at Burger King and their advertising agency need to be arrested, tried, and spend some time in shackles and prison cells. They've likely been violating state and federal cybercrime laws with their obnoxious ad campaign... For example, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act broadly prohibits anyone from accessing a computer without authorization... Burger King has instantly become the 'poster child' for mass, criminal abuse of these devices... It was a direct and voluntary violation of law.
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Should Burger King Be Prosecuted For Their Google Home-Triggering Ads?

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  • again
    • Re:/. won't either (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @07:47PM (#54241673)

      You're looking at this the wrong way - you should see this as an opportunity. When you see an obvious dupe on Slashdot, your first response should be to submit a new, slightly tweaked version of the item.

      If we all work together, we can make it so Slashdot's front page is full of eight or nine copies of the same story!

    • Re:/. won't either (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @08:03PM (#54241731)

      Let's face it. From a marketing perspective, this is a huge success for BK. A relatively small number people were *actually* negatively affected, and I'd bet very few regular BK customers will actually STOP going there as a result. But for a single commercial, a huge number of people are now talking about BK and Whoppers. Even better, some people shift blame to Google for the insecurity of those voice interfaces. It's highly unlikely and negative legal consequences will come from this either.

      Whichever sociopathic marketing asshole came up with this ploy is probably getting a big raise this year.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by phayes ( 202222 )

        A fitting response would be for Google to make sure that all OK Google + whopper requests forward on to results that BK dislikes: In-n-out, 5guys, Wendy's, etc. Tell everyone how BK always comes up short compared to their more palatable peers.

        • Re:/. won't either (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @10:43PM (#54242265)

          It would be funny, but then you're just playing BK's marketing game. There would be headlines AGAIN about Google doing that, which is just giving them more publicity. How many marketing campaigns end up with several Slashdot headlines (along with plenty of other big-name media outlets)?

          The worst thing that could have happened to BK is that this story was ignored. They way they figure it, the longer they can keep this in the news, the more successful their marketing campaign is. The faux anger will dissipate in fairly short order, but we're still all thinking about BK's Whoppers in the meantime.
             

          • Companies prove every year that bad publicity is bad.

            Target is about to go under from bad publicity on the right.

            A whole State is losing billions of dollars from bad publicity on the left, though that should go back to normal now.

            It doesn't even matter who is mad, when people get pissed at your company, and your company relies on sales of cheap shit to the masses, or tourism, it hurts.

            What confused people in the past was cases where companies got what was actually good publicity, but society had some tradit

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            Ask Benetton if there is no such thing as bad publicity. Their controversial ad campaigns from the 90's shocked and abused the trust of many resulting in my and so many others boycotting them and tossing the sweaters we had.

            They were oh so happy in the beginning -- "Look at all the free publicity!". Middle term it became "Hey guys, why are our sales tanking?" Long term was the closure of 90% of it's stores and a voluntary return to obscurity in order to not disappear completely.

            • Re:/. won't either (Score:4, Insightful)

              by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @08:52AM (#54244117)

              Shocked, ok. but how did they "abuse the trust"? What trust du you have (or do you need) to buy a plain sweater withthe only difference from other china produced mass market ware is a certain word?

              And for the return to obscurity.. That's what's happening to all mass market fashon brands. They start with an exclusive price tag and everyone wants a genuine "Foobar" shirt. Then profits are increased by becomming more and more "available" (both in number of stores and price) until everyone will buy them. And when the early adopters give the first pieces to welfare, the brand folds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Yeah, well that is OK the first time around, a big ole tee hee whoopsee but the silly fuckers went back for seconds, after they knew the outcome and Google's attempt to block it. So from neat advertising trick to multi-million dollar fine, value of the ad space stolen, serious money and Google will demostrate it is serious about security and junk food is shit food, as such junk food companies are shit food companies, so no empathy for those fuckers. Google makes a bunch of money and a junk food company get

        • Re:/. won't either (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @10:41PM (#54242255) Homepage

          Google will demostrate it is serious about security

          Snerk. Sorry, but voice interfaces are a MASSIVE security hole (think tape recorder). There's really no way to completely secure the damn things. You could prevent this attack, but there's lots more where that came from.

          As long as Google thinks people want them (and, from the fact that people buy the things, I have to say it looks that way), Google will keep making them. The only way to clean up the mess is to point out the flaws to the point that people don't WANT an always-on voice command system. And the only way that happens is if people find it more annoying than helpful.

          So kudos to Burger King for forcibly pointing out that there's a big problem in a way that DOESN'T drain customer's bank accounts.

          • This is why you need to set a passphrase for authentication. Something like this should keep Google Home and Alexa from accidentally activating:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
          • ...The only way to clean up the mess is to point out the flaws to the point that people don't WANT an always-on voice command system. And the only way that happens is if people find it more annoying than helpful.

            People have always found passwords to be annoying. So much so that the "top 10 worst passwords" lists haven't really changed in decades. Yes, the same fucking stupid behavior of picking a shitty password has been passed on through generations of computer users. Identity theft on the rise because of it? Sure. People still don't give a shit.

            In short, there is no fixing this. People WANT insecurity. They WANT to be lazy. It's the entire fucking reason they paid good money for an always-on voice comman

            • Re:/. won't either (Score:5, Interesting)

              by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @08:58AM (#54244143)

              But it would be really simple here: That activation phrase is already annoying enough. ("Hey Siry" rolls like something you'd normaly say to someone, but chanting some company name to get results back sounds more like arcane magic summoning a demon from mammon's hell..)

              Why not use individualized activation phrases?

              Give your "personal assistant" some personality! A name of it's own, randomly modulate the speech synthesis parameters a bit for each device, and BK would need to go "OK John, OK Helen, OK Majel, OK Eliza, OK HAL..." and the spot would be over without triggering any device

              • There are actual technical reasons for using one name.

                In the Kinect, there is a very lower power custom hardware circuit that only detects the phrase 'XBox On", and nothing else. I would guess other devices work in a similar fashion.

                This saves hardware and electrical costs when spread over millions of devices that are always 'on' by allowing them to be in a low-power state, yet still able to respond when triggered, without it people would be complaining about the constant waste of the power drain.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Well, this IS the company that actually made a video game of an adult in a creepy king costume stalking children and making them eat unhealthy food.

        • "Google and the criminal justice system ( a big ole example of how naughty it is to hack computer networks no matter how insecure or how you do it, simply not a opportunity for federal prosecutors to miss, esepcially if they land some of them with short custodial sentences, months not years and a really, really big fine, millions"

          You seem to be confusing burger king, the corporation, with you or I or any other "individual 1337 h4xx0r". If "we" did this, we would be in jail for life. Corporations don't get p

      • If United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz still has his job maybe the same broken logic is operating there too. United recently assaulted a customer who didn't want to give up his seat.

      • Re: /. won't either (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ewanm89 ( 1052822 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @04:46AM (#54243507) Homepage

        I wonder if anyone has figured just how malicious this actually is, it is insidiously so when we consider this deliberate repeat activations of what is a google search recorded against a users google account and feeds into the advertising interest algorithms for the advertising google's network serves. It is directly going to skew adverts to win win the advert buy auction on an interest score rather than a price per an advert.

  • Support BK! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to side with BK on this one. Nice troll of google. Again! With BK you can get a product that will feed you. With google you *are* the product. Not sure which product is the fattiest or greasiest of the two but there you have it.

    • Same thing here. Stupid interface is just asking for trouble. But this does kind of remind me of the Captain Crunch episode.

    • With google you *are* the product.

      No, with google you're the service, they don't sell your data they only sell targeted ads.

      If you're going to pretend to care, at least pretend to know wtf is going on.

      • No, with google you're the service, they don't sell your data they only sell targeted ads.

        With Google, you've just an ant -- one of many. They're looking into their ant farm from the outside, occasionally dropping in pretty, shiny things and even making you pay for the privilege, either with real money or yet more information. And if they somehow happen to lose a few along the way, there's lots of others for replacements.

        They know where you've been, when and how often you go there, and a lot of what you're interested in (from gmail and browser web-bugs.) With Google Voice -- which I use -- t

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @07:44PM (#54241657)

    I've never heard of such a brutal and shocking injustice that I cared so little about!

    Give it to me straight... who does this affect - 4 or 5 people tops?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by McGruber ( 1417641 )

      Give it to me straight... who does this affect - 4 or 5 people tops?

      No, this is a new attack on freedom of speech, so it affects everyone.

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @07:51PM (#54241683)

    I mean, as long as we are all being dicks, why not have the bigger dick?

    • by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @08:05PM (#54241739)

      Or why not remove Burger King from their search engine? A milder version would be pushing up a warning page when searching for Burger King or any of their trademarks...

      • Or send BK's corporate mail servers a few thousand emails from each Google Home device requesting they stop each time they hear the ad? I hope they'd take the hint if their advertisements start triggering corporate network problems.
      • by ttsai ( 135075 )

        Or why not remove Burger King from their search engine? A milder version would be pushing up a warning page when searching for Burger King or any of their trademarks...

        Hmm, you want Google to punish a paying customer (i.e., Burger King) to protect the rights of non-paying non-customers?

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @04:37AM (#54243491)

        Or why not remove Burger King from their search engine?

        Because it's legally an incredibly stupid thing to do for a company that states over and over again they are not abusing a monopoly position.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Or why not remove Burger King from their search engine? A milder version would be pushing up a warning page when searching for Burger King or any of their trademarks...

        And the MPAA and RIAA would LOVE this because it means Google CAN do it, WILL do it, and are doing it for stupid reasons.

        Instead of having to "legally" prove a site is bad, why not have Google remove piracy sites for possibly having links? I mean, you removed Burger King because they embarrassed you, so why not remove these sites because no p

    • I mean, as long as we are all being dicks, why not have the bigger dick?

      Because being an annoying dick is different to being a monopoly abusing dick, and Google doing that would just result in a very lengthy court action.

  • I'm not of that opinion. When a company is universally mocked on social media, I have trouble understanding how that is good for that company.
    • I'm not of that opinion. When a company is universally mocked on social media, I have trouble understanding how that is good for that company.

      But they are not. You just think they are.

      Quite a lot of people are laughing this off.
      A few people are annoyed.
      Many people are pointing out how clever the idea was.
      A lot of others are pointing the blame at Google.

      Hell here on Slashdot there seems to be more praise for them than not. This isn't United beating up passengers and getting grilled for it. This is actual somewhat interesting and intelligent social conversation which mentions Burger King over and over again.

  • "Order me a widget..."

    You just know someone is going to try it. Put out a tv or radio ad, that tells every Echo out there to order a particular item, or at the very least, add it to a shopping cart.

    • by xlsior ( 524145 )
      Already been done --

      http://www.theverge.com/2017/1... [theverge.com]

      "One recent instance occurred in Dallas, Texas earlier this week, when a six-year-old asked her family’s new Amazon Echo “can you play dollhouse with me and get me a dollhouse?” The device readily complied, ordering a KidKraft Sparkle mansion dollhouse,"
      ...
      "The story could have stopped there, had it not ended up on a local morning show on San Diego’s CW6 News. At the end of the story, Anchor Jim Patton remarked: “I l
      • Somebody's full of crap. In order to complete an order this way, after getting the Echo to understand what you want and confirming it verbally, you still need the 4-digit confirmation PIN number. That's a 1-in-10000 chance of getting right. If the parents let the kid hear the PIN number, that's on them. Not Amazon.

        It's just the news media trolling you, hyperventilating about a non-problem. Again. Still. As they will continue to do tomorrow, because you let them.

        • by Megane ( 129182 )
          Okay, "Alexa, sudo get me a dollhouse!"
  • The people who designed these systems knew full well in an environment with widespread adoption there would be a wide range of incentives to intentionally exploit this using unauthenticated local and broadcast communications. This is only the beginning.

    I hope all those upset about burger king "hacking" their devices continue to enjoy their Surveillance Marketed As Revolutionary Technology devices.

    • Actually I bet it was written showed up j. Testing. I completely believe that they missed this type of error,

      For the simple fact the would have texted radio and other audio but not third parties saying such things.

      Never as five to malice when shear stupidity covers it. Of course it is why I don't use voice controls they have zero ability to identify people.pure audio doesn't work as you need to identify users and audio indentification is problematic even among people let alone visual.

  • Even if it is for a short time, I wonder if BK will get the hint if Google suddenly blacklists BK, or perhaps redirects all searches to a page explaining how BK is being a douche.
    • The ideal would be for google to tweak the reply so it becomes:
      Burger King Ad: "Okay Google: what is the whopper burger",
      Google Home: "The whooper burger is one of the leading causes of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the United States."

      A response that is objectively true, and not in Burger Kings interest.

      On topic, this is this actually illegal, but the severity is similar to that of an elementary school kid who installs scripts displaying a funny gif on the teachers computer while
      • by jopsen ( 885607 )
        Sorry, the formatting ran crazy, and I accidentally hit submit...
      • On topic, this is this actually illegal

        In this case seems nothing was "accessed" and nothing "protected" bypassed. There seems to be no criminal intent to defraud.. etc.

        Would be interested in hearing details about what law(s) were broken and what aspects make it illegal in your view.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @08:41PM (#54241839)
    All publicity is good publicity, right? According to the assholes at BK., it is. To Wit:

    Dara Schopp, BK regards the ad as a success, as it has increased the brand's 'social conversation' on Twitter by some 300%," though he's not a fan of "reaching through your TV speakers and directly messing with your digital devices. You may wish to consider alternate vendors for your burger needs."

    All publicity is good publicity. Thus the thugs at United Airlines have just completed the most sucessful and money making PR campaign ever.

    Next on Burger Kings agenda - Murdering a reandom customer. Strangle that fucker in th efront of the store. That oughta get their Twitter feed, the undeniable measure of success, to go up by a million percent or so.

    • All publicity is good publicity. Thus the thugs at United Airlines have just completed the most sucessful and money making PR campaign ever.

      You're missing the content of the social conversation. For United it is far more negative (actually absolutely negative) than it is for Burger King. Much of the "social conversation" for Burger King is actually that, proper conversation with people both for, and against what BK have recently done. This has been amazingly positive for BK.

      United don't have a social conversation. They have a public tar and feathering combined with a witch burning, with a desert of salting the grounds in the hope that their spi

  • the king will not last 1 day in gen pop!

  • by chromaexcursion ( 2047080 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @09:05PM (#54241913)
    Interesting, I haven't heard of a similar attack on Siri, or Amazon Echo.
    is BK just trolling for the biggest fish, or is there something more?
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

    In fact they should be put up for the death penalty and deported. in that order.

    Dear god, because it triggers a piece of toy tech the stupid people get all "PUNISH THEM!"

    Honestly, my fellow Americans all have turned into Low IQ whiney babies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not that it triggered it, it's that they went around something that was obviously meant to stop them from triggering it. It's like someone putting up a no trespassing sign but the trespassers come and trespass again. That shit will get you six months and a $5000 fine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rockoon ( 1252108 )

        It's not that it triggered it, it's that they went around something that was obviously meant to stop them from triggering it.

        No, thats not what happened.


        You are confusing Googles targeted fingerprint "solution" with an attempt by Google to prevent advertisers from doing this, and you are confused in this way because you suck the Google cock and wont take a moment to think that maybe, just fucking maybe, that Google was at fault, is at fault, and will continue to be at fault so long as bullshit "fixes" are considered a "solution."

    • It embarrassed them - it stripped off the pretend mask of "cool" and let everyone see them as the idiots they are. Go back to the other thread on this and read the vitriol they sling. Who is it directed at? Or, rather, to which comments do they direct their hatred?

  • Where I come from, laws that put people in prison for these sorts of pranks is known as Nanny-Statism. Such laws keep growing and festering.

    Eventually a popular uprising occurs and a nut-job is voted in to power ...

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @09:23PM (#54241989)

    Kevin Mitnick spent 5 years in jail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and Aaron Swartz was prosecuted/persecuted to the point that he committed suicide https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Meanwhile, Sony pulls off their rootkit exploit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] and now Burger King with "OK, Google", and nobody goes to prison. The takeaway lesson for cybercriminals... don't do anything as an individual; instead, incorporate as a multinational, and have the corporation do the dirty work, without risk of anyone going to jail.

    • So, question, who exactly should go to jail for this? The actor who filmed the commercial? The CEO who probably hadn't even heard about the commercial before it went live? The marketer who came up with the idea?

      In all honesty, the most effective thing would probably be to fine the company a significant amount of cash, because that will hit the shareholders in the wallets.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously? You people are the reason nobody can get along anymore.

  • Put in shackles? Lauren Weinstein sounds like a real asshole.
  • by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @09:33PM (#54242021)
    Maybe you shouldn't make your vocalized password the default "OK google." Yeah I know, first world problems...
  • Hey, is there anybody out there as old as me, that remembers the Bill Gates' intro to voice controlled computing - - - when someone in the audience yelled out "Format see colon return" - and the computer did it - - - rofl.
    I never did find out what happened to the poor fool that scuppered BG's prime time demo.

    Just wait until someone figures out how to diddle the phones to switch to 'speaker-phone', and then proceed to totally trash the house's voice control network ! ! !

    cheers . . .

  • Of course (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Of course they should. It would be a perfect stage to show off how dumb the CFAA is to luddites in government.

  • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @11:13PM (#54242365) Journal

    corporation, they'd have been arrested, and would currently be awaiting trial in jail with an outrageous bail set.

    So fuck Mitt Romney, corporations are not people, they're clearly better than that.

  • by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @12:14AM (#54242629)

    What is authorized and un-authorized use? Has Google made any effort to limit use to only the owner, or have they optimized to allow use by anyone who can talk to the device? If there's no authentication, log-in, or physical controls, there's no permission needed to use the device. What does the owner need to do to keep other people from using the device? Turn it off.

  • Please deface and lock the Whopper [wikipedia.org] page so when Alexa reads it out it's really obscene and/or embarrassing. Problem solved.
  • I have a stack of PC Magazines back for ages at the top of my closet. On one of them, there is a caricature of Bill Gates as an octopus, fighting off attacks from fighter jets (the lead of which was Netscape) because Microsoft had the audacity to ship Internet Explorer as the default browser in their operating system. Let me repeat that: The fact that an operating system used it's influence to set the DEFAULT WEB BROWSER was front page news. And people were upset.

    And now....Microsoft has the stones to invol

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @02:19AM (#54243163)
    No, Google should be prosecuted, or at least sued, for having their stuff respond to what's on TV or the radio.

    Burger King's Ad should be firmly covered by the first amendment.

    • It's true. The Google Home device doesn't know who is saying the activation phrase. Anyone within ear (microphone) shot can trigger it. Therefore, Google needs to monitor the brain waves of all users in the room to determine if the activation was intentional or not.
  • Burger King are basically nothing more than Black Hat hackers showing us the devices are insecure. Anyone stupid enough to have bought into this generation of voice activated devices deserves all the accidental or malicious triggering they get because the devices just have no attempt at security at all. I mean, I hope the gen 2 devices make some attempt to authenticate that its their owner issuing commands.

    Right now these devices are as secure as running routers or other iot devices with the default passwor

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Sunday April 16, 2017 @01:10PM (#54245157) Homepage Journal

    Is this really "a thing" now? If so, and you're worrying about it, just please fucking shoot yourself.
    For the good of humanity. Just off you over-sensitive ass and have done!

    It's not BK's problem that Google's device security is half-baked shit.

  • by kenwd0elq ( 985465 ) <kenwd0elq@engineer.com> on Sunday April 16, 2017 @01:25PM (#54245235)

    "Burger King has instantly become the 'poster child' for mass, criminal abuse of these devices."

    What Burger King has become the "poster child" for is the utter and complete insecurity of any of the "Internet of Things", most of which have no security at all. There's not even any way to MAKE them secure. I sincerely hope that every IoT designer and programmer was interrupted by this and will see the light.

    It' is ALSO an enormous argument against anyone putting ANY faith in Wikipedia. NEVER use Wikipedia.

    It's also another warning (as if we needed one, after "Oath of Fealty") that computer/brain interfaces will make it trivially easy to implant false memories in the brain of any person who gets one.

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