A private conversation of a couple in the USA was recorded by Alexa and then sent to a random person in their contact list. Amazon's voice assistant can play music, set timers, order a pizza, and send recordings of private conversations to random people in its users' contact list. "Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right, '" Amazon explained.
Well, that's quite a turn of events, something even Amazon admits, continuing: "As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely".
"I felt invaded", she said.
Instead, Amazon reportedly offered the family to remove Alexa's communications feature, so their use of Echo systems will be limited exclusively to smart home applications. At which point, Alexa said out loud "To whom?"
Thankfully, the recorded conversation was only about hardware floors, but the incident has still managed to spark fears of Alexa spying on its users. She was livid with the discovery and took the colleague's advice by unplugging her Amazon Echo devices from her house.
"The person on the other line said, 'unplug your Alexa devices right now, '" she told KIRO.
The market for smart speakers is on a rise as both companies and customers are investing in it.
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The social network will be conducting a "thorough investigation" to check whether these apps have misused user data or not. The question over how many clicks or swipes it takes for users to change their privacy settings was also dodged.
One family is looking at their Amazon Alexa unit with a bit more caution after recent events. The used the devices for everything from controlling the temperature, security, and lights of their home to making phone calls.
"A husband and wife in the privacy of their home have conversations that they're not expecting to be sent to someone [in] their address book", she said. To recap, the woman was talking to her husband and a partial recording of their chat was then sent to one of his employees who lives in a different state. However, Danielle and her husband were not given any specifics on what caused the Alexa issue in the first place.
The woman, who is only identified as Danielle, said her family had installed the popular voice-activated speakers throughout their home.
The woman called Amazon to complain, and the company apologized for the mistake, saying it takes privacy concerns very seriously.
Alexa is a virtual assistant built into Amazon Echo smart speakers.
Although Amazon maintains this was a malfunction rather than proof Alexa is always listening, the company has filed patent applications in the past for functionalities that involve always listening, such as an algorithm that would analyse when people say they "love" or "bought" something.