Amazon Hears it From Users Over Privacy Concerns

May 25, 2018

By Conor White

Amazon tried to assure customers Friday that Alexa was not spying on them after it was revealed that one of the company's Echo devices recorded a couple's conversation and sent the audio file to someone in their contacts list without their knowledge.

The incident confirmed the fears of many smart-home skeptics : Big Commerce is listening to their every word.

"Not just Amazon ー Google, Apple, anyone with a smart home assistant who has a privacy issue ー they need to come totally clear about what their privacy policy is for your data," said Andrew Freedman, a senior editor at Tom's Guide. "And right now, they aren't saying 'Oh this is how often Amazon Echo is falsely triggered.' So we don't know these numbers, so it's hard to feel totally safe."

A husband and wife in Portland, Ore., received word that their conversation had been recorded when an employee of the husband told them a recording was sent out. The couple has said they thought it was a joke, but they were convinced when the person was able to tell them that their conversation was about hardwood floors.

Amazon says the Echo device, more commonly known as Alexa, simply got confused, and misinterpreted a series of commands.

"There have been a series of issues before where TV sets have turned on Alexa, or things happen where it just misunderstood what people say," said Freedman. "So what Amazon has to do here is make sure its voice-recognition technology is tight, that it just works, and right now it is clearly not there."

For the full interview, click here.