An Amazon employee might have listened to your Alexa recording

An Amazon employee might have listened to your Alexa recording

According to an Amazon spokesperson, "We take the security and privacy of our customers' personal information seriously".

"You don't necessarily think of another human listening to what you're telling your smart speaker in the intimacy of your home", Florian Schaub, a professor at the University of MI who has researched privacy issues with smart speakers, told Bloomberg.

The moderators reportedly have a chatroom where they can ask for help, or just share "amusing" recordings. In the Alexa Privacy Settings there is a "Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa" section where you can decide whether your voice recordings are used to "help develop new features" and/or "help improve transcription accuracy".

Amazon employees are also able to listen to accidental recordings from customers around the world, including in the United Kingdom, made when the devices think that they hear the word "Alexa".

If the claims that humans are reviewing recordings of our interactions with Echo speakers proves to be true, it could be a concerning insight into how artificially intelligent voice assistants are trained by companies, as well as a potential security issues for users. This team has access to voice recordings from real customers using Alexa-powered devices in their homes and workplaces (only Echo speakers are directly mentioned in the report, though Alexa also runs on mobile phones and numerous third-party devices).

The Echo device has become the best-selling smart speaker in Ireland with tens of thousands sold here and millions sold worldwide. Employees at Apple also manually curate audio recordings to make Siri smarter in speech recognition every day. 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. According to the company, "employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account" during the annotation process, but Bloomberg's sources provided screenshots showing that listeners actually receive an account number, device serial number, and first name of the user associated with an audio clip.

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What about Google's virtual assistant?

Are smart speakers recording all my conversations?

The popularity of smart speakers has grown exponentially since they were first introduced to the United Kingdom in 2016.

"It has a very specific wake word, so it's nothing more than any other device sitting on a countertop until it's been woken up". If the hot word is not detected on that short snippet, the snippet is immediately discarded. You can also listen to and delete previous voice recordings.

"It's important that people understand it's not always listening", Daren Gill, Amazon's Alexa director told i in 2017.

"Whether it's Microsoft, whether it's Google, whether it's Apple - you're agreeing to store your data on their servers", said Dimitrelos. Then go to the Keyboard menu (found in the General section) and switch off Dictation.

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