Amazon Echo Spies; Fiat Chrysler Recall; GDPR Begins

The Water Coolest

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She sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake. A couple’s Amazon Echo secretly recorded a conversation that is so domestic it hurts (read: about hardwood floors) and sent it to a random contact.

Jeffrey Commerce and Co. confirmed the glitch and promptly disemboweled said self-aware, artificially conscious smart speaker. Deeming the issue a series of unfortunate events, Amazon claims “Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa.’ Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request.” Amazon claims the issue was a technical glitch and not related to SkyNet.

In a scene straight out of a 90’s teen slasher movie, the friend on the receiving end of the conversation called the couple and said: “unplug your Alexa devices right now.”

Water Cooler Talking Point: “The end times are near. Tesla’s Auto Pilot, Uber’s self-driving car, now this. What’s next, we find out that Zuck actually is a lizard-person?”



Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8M cars and trucks due to issues with deactivation of the cruise control. Pretty sure this was the plot to the 4th Fast and Furious movie.

The good news is that the cars still work, it is just highly recommended that drivers do not use cruise control. The bad news is that the defect includes any car sold between 2014 and 2018, and 16 models including Jeep Cherokees, Wranglers, Ram Trucks, and Dodge Chargers. Yes, even the Hemi, Joe Dirt.

Tough break for the Italian-American company as they have been crushing sales lately. No detail was provided on how much the recall would cost, but a $175M fine was imposed in 2015 for “safety lapses,” by US regulators. And that doesn’t include the cost of repairs.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “I’d never wish ill will on anyone, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t f*cking despise the Jeep wave. Ok, so maybe I’m a bit jealous …”



It’s alive. The European Union flipped the switch on Friday, and all systems are now “go” on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

GDPR is a new regulation enacted in the EU stating that anyone doing business in the confines of the Union must use personal information only for the original purpose it was gathered for, and that information must be deleted upon request by the affected party. It is also the reason your spam box is overflowing with privacy updates you’ll never read.

GDPR is good news for those wishing for added internet privacy, and bad news if you’re Google or Facebook, who were hit with $8.8B in lawsuits within an hour of GDPR going live.

Both Google and Facebook updated their privacy policies in accordance with GDPR, but Australian privacy activist, Max Schrems, apparently doesn’t feel they’ve done enough. As if the $8.8B in lawsuits weren’t enough, Schrems also told the Financial Times that he believes Google and Facebook know that they’re non-compliant.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “Personally, I don’t mind privacy. Heck, I even think it’s a good thing. But if you’re voluntarily signing yourself up to put your information out on the World Wide Web, that’s on you.”




  • And we’re back. The Commerce Department has reportedly reached a deal to keep ZTE in business. And on the Friday before a long weekend no less. The Chinese telecom giant will be forced to pay a larger fine, shake up management, and hire American compliance officers (read: spies).
  • A pending $44B deal for Qualcomm to take over NXP appears to be contingent on the ZTE deal being reached. Chinese officials are set to sign off on the deal.
  • Pepsi will purchase the preferred snack company of people who wear Birkenstock’s, Bare. The companies didn’t disclose terms, but the baked fruit and vegetable snack company deal is reportedly north of $200M.
  • There’s a reason Jordan Belfort was trying to get as much money as possible to Switzerland: their private banks are renowned for being really, really private. Vontobel, a Zurich based asset manager scooped up Raiffeisen Switzerland’s private bank last week for $700M. Transactions among the countries private banks are rare as many are closely held family businesses.
  • US indices were mixed Friday:
    • DOW: -0.24%
    • S&P 500: -0.24%
    • NASDAQ: +0.13%


The Water Coolest is a daily business newsletter consisting of business news, financial advice, and unfiltered commentary. Delivered fresh in your inbox every morning so you're ready to snap necks and cash checks. Written by Tyler Morrin, AJ Glagolev, Nick Ellis, and Ian Barto.