How An Alexa Speaker Recorded, Shared A Private Conversation

Amazon's Alexa records and shares private conversation

A couple from OR 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. A spokesperson for the company said it had "determined this was an extremely rare occurrence".

The Echo devices were not being hacked, but good on the employee to call them to let them know he had received audio files of their conversations. The person, who happened to be an employee of the husband, was in the family's contact list.

We've welcomed smart speakers into our homes with the kind of enthusiasm you don't normally see around always-on listening devices, because from the very beginning, Amazon stressed that Alexa wasn't snooping on your conversations, and the data wasn't being used for anything nefarious.

On received a recording of a conversation from the live-in robot assistant, an acquaintance of the couple called them right away, advising them to "unplug your Alexa devices right now".

"I felt invaded, like total privacy invasion", Danielle said. Even Amazon agrees that this was an unlikely chain of events, but says it is working on ways to make it even more unlikely to repeat.

"Unplug your Alexa devices right now!" warned the puzzled recipient, according to ABC affiliate station KIRO7, which first reported the story. Then in between the couple's conversation, Alexa heard the request to "send message" by mistake.

In a statement, Amazon explained: "Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like "Alexa".

"My husband and I would joke and say I'd bet these devices are listening to what we're saying", Danielle said.

Alexa starts recording after hearing its name or another "wake word" chosen by users, meaning that even having a TV switched on can result in the device being activated.

The background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list.

But those who do not want Alexa to listen to them at all can press and hold the microphone button on top of their Echo speaker until it turns red.

It is a big question for most people but a fundamental one of Amazon, which is now having its own iPhone-like moment thanks to Alexa and devices such as Echo and Dot.

These recordings are then stored on Amazon's servers. Amazon quickly fixed the vulnerability after researchers alerted the company.

Amazon has an explanation as to what happened.

Related news: