- Amazon’s Alexa records more of what you say than you might realise.
- The recording begins when the speaker is activated with the “wake” word.
- To stop the device from listening, you can mute the microphone. In doing so, you’ll also be unable to send it commands.
Amazon‘s Alexa isn’t only listening to everything you say – it’s absorbing it.
While Alexa makes certain tasks easier by following voice commands, it is learning more about you than you might expect, and it’s terrifying some customers.
A couple from Oregon were shocked to find out that their Alexa-powered speaker recorded a private conversation in their home and sent to a person in their contact list.
“I felt invaded,” the woman, named Danielle, told KIRO-TV. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again because I can’t trust it.'”
In a statement to Business Insider, Amazon explained what happened:
“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 customer’s 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.”
The rationale behind these recordings
In order to adapt to its owner’s style of speaking, Alexa listens and stores recordings of their voice.
The recording activates when a person says the “wake” word, and it stores what you say after that. It is not constantly recording.
These recordings are then stored on Amazon’s servers.
“We keep the voice recordings associated with your account to improve the accuracy of the results provided to you and to improve our services. If you delete these recordings, it may degrade your experience using voice features,” Amazon says on its website.
To stop the device from listening, you can mute the microphone. However, in doing so, you’ll also be unable to send it commands.
How do I listen to my recordings?
Fortunately, there is an easy way to listen to the recordings, if you’re curious to know what is being stored on Amazon’s servers:
- Open the Alexa app on your device.
- Go to the menu and select “Settings.”
- Go to the “General” section and select “History.”
- From here, select a recording and press “Play.”