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 purposely designed to trigger Google Home devices without the permission of those devices’ owners.
Not only has Burger King admitted that this was their purpose, they’ve been gloating about changing their ads to avoid blocks that Google reportedly put in place to try protect Google Home device owners from being subjected to Burger King’s criminal intrusions.
For example, the federal CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) broadly prohibits anyone from accessing a computer without authorization. There’s no doubt that Google Home and its associated Google-based systems are computers, and I know that I didn’t give Burger King permission to access and use my Google Home or my associated Google account. Nor did millions of other users. And it’s obvious that Google didn’t give that permission either. Yet the morons at Burger King and their affiliated advertising asses — in their search for social “buzz” regarding their nauseating fast food products — felt no compunction about literally hijacking the Google Home systems of potentially millions of people, interrupting other activities, and ideally (that is, ideally from their sick standpoint) interfering with people’s home environments on a massive scale.
This isn’t a case of a stray “Hey Google” triggering the devices. This was a targeted, specific attack on users, which Burger King then modified to bypass changes that Google apparently put in place when word of those ads circulated earlier.
Burger King has instantly become the “poster child” for mass, criminal abuse of these devices. And with their lack of consideration for the sanctity of people’s homes, we might assume that they’re already making jokes about trying to find ways to bill burgers to your credit card without your permission as well. For other dark forces watching these events, this idea could be far more than a joke.
While there are some humorous aspects to this situation — like the anti-Burger King changes made on Wikipedia in response to news of these upcoming ads — the overall situation really isn’t funny at all.
In fact, it was a direct and voluntary violation of law. It was accessing and using computers without permission. Whether or not anyone associated with this illicit stunt actually gets prosecuted is a different matter, but I urge the appropriate authorities to seriously explore this possibility, both for the action itself and relating to the precedent it created for future attacks.
And of course, don’t buy anything from those jerks at Burger King. Ever.