Amazon employees are listening when you talk to Alexa

Amazon has admitted that its employees listen to conversations users have with Alexa to make improvements to the device.

Many people use Alexa in their homes and offices for a variety of reasons. “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?” “Alexa, turn on the lights.” “Alexa, give me ideas on where to go on holiday.” 

These are just some of the basic commands we use with Alexa. But now, according to a report by Bloomberg, humans are listening, transcribing and annotating some of the audio files from conversations we have with our devices in the home. 

Amazon has said it is doing this to make improvements to the way Alexa understands and responds to voice commands. 

According to Bloomberg’s report, a mix of contractors and full-time Amazon employees from around the world analyse around 1,000 voice recordings per shift, a concerning issue for homeowners’ privacy and security.

The report also said that some of the workers claim to occasionally pick up private audio files and even possible criminal activities. Bloomberg’s report states: “Two of the workers said they picked up what they believe was a sexual assault.” When the two Romania-based employees reported the distressing audio file, “they were told it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere.”

While Amazon has admitted the fact that its employees listen to the conversations, it has also released the following statement: “We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information very seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the improve the customer experience. For example, 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.”

The company also stated that employees cannot identify the person or account relating to the voice recordings. 

However, this doesn’t give peace of mind knowing that Alexa is always listening; even when you don’t want to activate her, sometimes a word you say in conversation can trigger her and she will be recording that too!