Amazon Employees Listen To What You Have To Say To Alexa

A report from Bloomberg has revealed that whatever you say to your Amazon Alexa have potentially been heard by thousands of Amazon employees. The report explains that the company has staff around the world, both full time and contract, whose job it is to listen to people’s interactions with the Echo devices and use that to improve how Alexa responds in future.

Now this shouldn’t come as a shock seeing as Amazon keeps what you say to Alexa on file so that they can hand it over to the cops if they show up with a warrant for example. But at the same time it is a bit of a problem seeing as I really don’t want any of these smart speakers to be collecting my conversations and having the companies behind them listen to what I say.

Now if any of this sounds familiar, it should. You might remember the story I wrote on Amazon owned Ring employees watching customer camera feeds. At the time Amazon had this to say:

We take the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information extremely seriously. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring videos. These videos are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app (in accordance with our terms of service), and from a small fraction of Ring users who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilize their videos for such purposes

And in the present day in terms of this fiasco, Amazon had this to say:

“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously,” an Amazon spokesman said in an emailed statement. “We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience. For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone.

“We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it.”

You’ll excuse me if that doesn’t make me feel better. Which means that an Alexa device will never see the light of day in my home. In the meantime, I’ll go back to using Siri. Sure it isn’t as smart as the other smart assistants out there. But at least Apple’s privacy policy makes it clear how your information is used, the fact that it isn’t directly tied to you, that much of it resides on your iDevices, and you can reset things so that you can cover your tracks if you need to. All of that makes me feel better.

One Response to “Amazon Employees Listen To What You Have To Say To Alexa”

  1. […] might remember this story about Amazon employees having access to what you say to your Amazon Alexa. Well, this story has […]

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