If Then

For Amazon, Privacy Is a Complexifier

Jeff Bezos lost control of his own intimate data. Will his company protect ours?

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On today’s show, hosts April Glaser and Will Oremus talk about the implications of last week’s bizarre but also serious showdown between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and American Media Inc., owner of the Trump-friendly National Enquirer. Bezos claimed the Enquirer was blackmailing him by threatening to release private and quite racy photos between him and the woman he was having an affair with. Bezos stood up to the alleged extortion by publishing his account of the situation, complete with threatening emails from AMI.


At the same time Bezos was fighting for his own privacy, his company was making a deal that could have serious privacy implications for the rest of us. This week, Amazon announced it was acquiring Eero, the mesh Wi-Fi router startup. To sort through this mesh, the hosts are joined by Stacey Higginbotham, who writes all about the internet of things. They ask her about what this move means for smart home users’ privacy, and where we should draw the line between what in our home should be smart and what should be, well, dumb.


8:08 - Interview with Stacey Higginbotham
21:15 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:

Slate: “Most Sextortion Victims Aren’t Billionaires


Stacey on IoT: “Amazon Just Acquired Eero Because Wi-Fi Is Key to the Smart Home

Variety: “Amazon’s Eero Acquisition Is All About Data, but Not the Data You Think

Don’t Close My Tabs:

April: The Baffler: “The Whitest News You Know

Will: The New Republic: “The False Promise of Silicon Valley’s Quest to Save the World

Podcast production by Max Jacobs.

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.