Amazon Alexa and Privacy Concerns Continue
Amazon was the first company to throw their hat in the ring for smart speakers back in 2014. Then, it became known as the Amazon Echo. This device allowed users to order items to play music and ask questions with their voice. Since it’s an initial debut, the smart speaker market skyrocketed when Google announced their speakers and then, in 2017, Apple announced their Homepod. Yet, Amazon’s Echo soon morphed into Alexa and it continues to be the center of privacy controversy.
In May 2018, a Portland family reported that their Amazon Alexa device recorded their private conversationsand sent the conversations to someone in their contact list. Amazon devices are not alone though, as hackers discovered vulnerabilities in Google’s Home Hub, too. However, while a remote takeover of smart speakers is possible, no actual malware for the devices has ever appeared. What happened in Portland was a minor bug with the device, and was quickly corrected. Still, consumer trust remains at an all-time low for technology companies.
Amazon Alexa and Privacy of Kids
Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids is designed for children and features fun colors to give it an animated appearance. The voice-activated device acts as an intercom in the home, accepts phone calls, tells stories, plays music, and as Amazon lists on their site, the Echo Dot Kids device is always getting smarter. One might wonder how the device is actually getting smarter. Similar to the adult counterpart, Amazon listens to what you say and how you interact with its devices. Once this happens, the device learns to adapt and become more useful to its owners.
Alexa and Amazon devices are the most popular smart home devices on the market right now due to this active-learning approach. Yet, this active-learning comes with privacy concerns. Experts say that Amazon kept recordings of children’s voices longer than required. In addition to this complaint of the recordings, parents discovered how burdensome it is to delete the information collected on their kids. In fact, if you want to delete all of the information on your child, you need to call Amazon’s customer support.
It’s not only the information on children that requires calling customer support, but also, to delete your contact list and to turn off other always-on features on the Amazon Alexa.
What Does Amazon Actually Record?
Amazon’s official page states that when you ask Alexa to play a song, a small recording is captured and sent and stored on Amazon’s cloud. The biggest question is: is Alexa always listening to you? Amazon says no. They state that the devices only activate once the owner says the wake word. However, it is possible to delete your Alexa recordings through the app. Or, the recordings can be deleted in the Alexa app.
However, a recent ABC Radio report states that it’s not just the cloud storing the information and sending commands. Behind the Alexa device, there are also Amazon employees listening in on the conversations with Alexa when the wake word is used. Yet, some employees stated that they can hear upsetting or even criminal recordings. Despite those claims, Amazon denies that is possible.
Despite the many concerns over privacy related to Alexa, there are many other problems that can arise outside of the Amazon devices. Data breaches continue to be on the rise and cybersecurity efforts struggle to keep up. However, Secure Forensics can help to stop a data breach and will deploy anywhere in the world within 24 hours to do so. For a free phone consultation, contact us at 1-800-288-1407.