Amazon Alexa device recorded a family’s conversation and sent it to another person

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Amazon Echo Dot hands-on video

ORIGINAL: With the rise of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, some people are concerned that their devices are listening to them even when they’re not being spoken to. A new report has revealed that that actually happening to one family.

A family in Portland, OR, says that their Amazon Alexa device recorded a conversation that they had and sent it to someone in Seattle, WA, that was in their contacts. The family has Alexa devices in every room of their home to control their heat, lights, and security system.

The family spoke with an Alexa engineer at Amazon who said that it was a problem that needed to be fixed, but didn’t provide any other information about the issue or why this happened. Amazon did provide a statement to KIRO 7 regarding the situation:

“Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”

This news is unsettling, as it’s one of the worst things that can happen with a smart speaker device. Even if it is an “extremely rare occurrence” like Amazon says, this incident is likely going to make some people question ther smart speaker ownership.

 

UPDATE: Amazon offered the following explanation for why Alexa recorded a family’s conversation and sent it to another person:

“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”



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