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Editorial: Could Amazon Dash Turn on You?

As we welcome Amazon and other tech-savvy firms into our lives, critics worry about the future of our data.

(TNS) -- Amazon wants you to have it all with the push of a button. Prime wasn't enough. Neither was one-click ordering. No, the company needed to make life (read: consuming) easier for you, so it has created the Dash Button. Amazon's Dash, which is currently available only to select Amazon Prime customers on a trial basis, is a plastic button about the size of your thumb. It allows you to reorder a certain brand of household supplies over a Wi-Fi connection with a simple push.

This isn't a metaphorical button; Dash sticks to appliances similar to the way a Command Strip does. You can now have a Tide detergent button on your washing machine. Just press it when your supply of detergent runs low, Amazon sends an alert to your phone and two days later there will be a fresh jug on your doorstep.

Right now it's a temporary attachment. Amazon, though, aims to have the buttons built into appliances such as washing machines and printers, not just stuck on them. Eventually, your coffee maker might reorder the coffee for you.

There has been a lot of blowback to this idea. A few tech commentators cry that this signals an Orwellian future filled with mindless consumers buried under endless supplies of Maxwell House coffee. Dash, they say, is invasive. It's intrusive. It raises worries about whether Amazon really needs to know how often you buy Gatorade.

The critics raise another concern: Could Dash turn on you?

The crowdsourcing company eYeka has created its own version of the Dash button, one that can record 10-second suggestions on how to improve the products of more than 300 brands that work with eYeka.

If eYeka's button can record voices, will a Dash button eventually do the same? Could it record you without your knowledge?

Those concerns have already been raised about the cameras and microphones on your phone, your tablet, your laptop. But Amazon wants Dash to be in your pantry, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, all hooked up to your Wi-Fi connection.

Could Dash be hacked? One commenter on an Amazon forum quipped, "What if my neighbor stops my toilet tissue delivery?" Jason Koebler, a technology writer for Vice's Motherboard, suggested placing mass orders of sponges in the name of revenge.

It's something to think about. We've welcomed Amazon and other tech-savvy firms deeper into our lives. Our habits are easier to follow.

People may rush to Dash. You can see how it would be helpful for frenzied parents or lazy bachelors.

But at some point are we going to ask what button can we push to get our privacy back?

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