reports that Amazon employs thousands of people to
listen to customers talk to their virtual personal
assistant Alexa, Florida’s chief financial officer is
warning residents to be careful what they say about
their private health matters.
revealed steps Alexa owners might not realize they can
take to protect themselves.
News last week reported that Amazon employees around the
globe are listening to voice recordings captured in the
homes of owners of its popular line of personal speaker,
Echo. The recordings are transcribed and fed back into
the device’s operating software to help it better
understand human speech.
workers hear possible evidence of crimes, including
sexual assaults, the report stated. But Amazon says its
employees have no way to track down the identities of
the voices they hear.
Amazon has announced that it’s developing ways that
patients can one day use the Echo to communicate
securely with health care providers and pharmacists.
CFO Jimmy Patronis says customers should be wary about
how secure their information actually is with Alexa in
comfortable are you with a complete stranger listening
to audio files from your home? That’s a reality with
Amazon’s Alexa technology,” Patronis was quoted in a
news release Monday as saying. “Although it’s built
to make our lives easier and more productive, there are
real privacy risks.”
owners should not only beef up privacy protections, they
should also weigh the risks of sharing personal
information, especially prescriptions or other medical
information, Patronis said.
of the 2017 data breach at the Equifax credit monitoring
company, 143 million people now face the potential of
lifelong threats of identity theft, the news release
said. Added Patronis: “It’s only a matter of time
before voice technology suffers a breach.”
offered three steps Alexa owners can take to protect
the microphone and camera when you aren’t using your
Alexa device. Alexa products capture all voice commands
and other sounds in the room. If you don’t intend to
use the device, turn your mic off to ensure it can’t
record things being said. For newer devices with
cameras, turn off that function when you know it won’t
old Alexa recordings. All of your recordings remain on
Amazon’s cloud until their owners delete them,
Patronis said. Some may include private information. You
can listen to and delete them by going to Settings >
History in the Alexa app. You can also utilize the
dashboard available at Amazon.com.
disable Drop In permissions immediately. The Drop In
feature on Alexa devices is designed to create an
intercom system with another device. Be very careful
when allowing any Drop In permissions to your device as
it allows others to access your mic and speaker, whether
the user is in another room or another city.