Alexa ‘accidentally’ records a family’s conversation and sends it to someone
It was always clear Alexa was going to hit a few teething problems in its first five years, but its latest incident may have some thinking twice about owning one of Amazon’s voice-controlled devices.
In recent times, Amazon’s PR team has had numerous issues to deal with since the launch of its Echo speaker in 2014 – ranging from Alexa manically laughing for no real reason to being summoned to provide data in a murder case. And now, an everyday incident has many wondering about what exactly the smart assistant is and isn’t recording and who could be listening, with reports of audio files being sent to a random contact without warning.
A Portland, Oregon-based family had reportedly set up Alexa-powered devices throughout their home to manage lighting, heat and security – but, rather ironically, on this occasion the technology has done far from keep the family (specifically, its data) secure.
The family recently came out to say to that their Echo device recorded a chat between family members before sending it to someone in their contacts. They say the person (an employee of the husband) even showed them the audio files of the conversations he had received from the device.
They have since come to detail Amazon’s reaction to the incident, telling local TV channel, KIRO 7: “They said 'our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry.” The wife added: “He apologised like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix.”
Amazon has since come out to clarify that Alexa simply misheard triggers/actions on three different occasions, hence the error, but the family are understandably startled by what’s happened and are looking for a full refund on its Amazon products.