“The Amazon Echo records everything it hears in your home, 24/7, and archives it to Amazon’s cloud storage,” according to MSCHF’s “manifesto,” announced on the Alexagate product page. “Perhaps you don’t subscribe to the notion that Facebook always listens through your phone’s mic, but ask yourself at least this in all honesty: Do you think the Echo ‘mute’ button really does anything?”
Amazon absolutely does. The company guarantees its gadgets are designed to start listening “only after detecting” the chosen wake word, and each Echo comes with a “microphone off” button that cuts the mic and stops recording at any time. Not everyone is satisfied, though.
The limited-edition Alexagate—presumably named after its gatekeeping capabilities, or as a hint to the Watergate bugging scandal—is on sale now for $99. Its white noise hat and mounting ring are compatible with the first-, second-, and third-gen Echo Dot; second-gen Echo Plus; and first- and third-gen Echo devices. Or, as MSCHF put it: “Since who knows what generation is what, all the little Echo Dots, and all the newer tall ones with rounded edges.”
The add-on doesn’t conflict with the speaker itself; owners can continue to communicate with their Amazon gadget, as long as Alexagate is turned off. And while it is likely to shout through the ultrasound system, it’s not recommended. “We could only do it from about six inches away, yelling until our throats were hoarse,” MSCHF’s FAQ page said. “Believe us when we say that the blocking is good.”