Experts are warning that consumers should not keep Amazon Echo Alexa devices in their bedrooms, bathrooms, or any other private areas. This is because Alexa can turn on with “trigger words.” Not only can this happen without you knowing, but what you say has the potential to make it to strangers in tech company cubicles.
Senior tech experts don’t bring their smart devices into their bedrooms for a reason
Recordings of your voice can also be permanently stored in the cloud. While this may at first seem innocuous, it’s not. Forbes Tech Council considers voice biometrics as a prime candidate for deep fakes. Further, because voice activation becomes more accurate over time as it listens to you, recordings of your voice could lead to some real security breaches.
Tech expert and mathematician Dr. Hannah Fry says that “very senior” people in the tech industry will not bring their smartphones into personal spaces. This includes bedrooms, bathrooms, and anywhere else where you wouldn’t want your conversations recorded.
Dr. Fry also says that low price points on tech devices with voice recording capabilities are a red flag. Because some companies like Amazon may have access to what you’re saying, they could be using your recordings to improve their services. Your cheap subscription or device may seem like a steal and big companies don’t mind because you’re helping them. But this also means that a bunch of strangers could be listening in on your private conversations without you knowing.
Amazon has already admitted to listening in on customers via Echo Alexa
Liverpool Echo reports that Amazon itself has admitted to the practice of listening in on customers. This came after Bloomberg wrote an article in 2019 about Amazon employees accessing not just voice recordings, but customer names and device serial numbers.
“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,” said Amazon in a statement.
Lack of government oversight regarding privacy rights and the long-term effects of their biometric recording should also send a chill down your spine.
And while apps and devices that record your voice are supposed to come with agreements, some of those are long and hard to comprehend. The LA Times reported that the average tech user agreement takes about 60 to 90 minutes to read and actually understand. Realistically, no one has that kind of time these days.
Amazon Echo Alexa precautions: opt-out, delete, protect your right to privacy
Still, it’s best to read what you’re getting into and opt out of as much personal information sharing as possible.
Jake Moore, a cyber security expert, told The Independent that users should also practice proactive measures to protect themselves.
“Long has there been fears that smart technology and social media is listening to more than we may realize,” said Moore. “Amazon’s Alexa privacy settings sadly don’t let you opt out of the voice recording, but you can stop your recordings being used for product development, plus you can delete any previous voice recordings in the settings.”
The moral of the story? Keep that Amazon Echo Alexa speaker that you got in your Christmas stocking out of the bedroom. You already have Santa keeping tabs on the naughty list — you don’t need 1,000 Amazon employees spying on you, too.
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