An Amazon Echo Recorded A Conversation, Then Sent It As A Message

Pauline Gross
May 25, 2018

Amazon's voice assistant can play music, set timers, order a pizza, and send recordings of private conversations to random people in its users' contact list.

United States news outlet KIRO 7 reported that a woman, identified only as Danielle from Portland, Oregon, had been unaware of what happened until she received a phone call from her husband's employee.

Danielle said that her Amazon Echo Dot secretly recorded a private conversation between her and her husband. 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.

However in a more detailed statement issued to The Verge, the company has said that Echo woke up because it a heard similar to Alexa.

Amazon said this was what happened to Danielle, adding: "The subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request". Alexa then asked aloud if they wanted to send a message to that contact and heard "right" in more background conversation.

The message: "Unplug your Alexa devices right now".

"I felt invaded! Like total privacy invasion". We already have various AI assistants in this day and age, but the question arises whether or not it is safe to trust such a device as privacy is the biggest concern considering the recent Cambridge Analytica Scandal incident. He told her the device "just guessed" what her and her husband were saying.

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People have been willing to overlook glitches in the Echo, like it turning on accidentally or without the wake word being uttered, said Ryan Calo, an associate law professor at the University of Washington who researches how law applies to technology.

Danielle said she wants a refund, but Amazon won't budge.

Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experience & Devices at Amazon India said that switches in these homes will be Internet-enabled, due to which residents will be able to control regular home appliances, which aren't connected to the internet, through Alexa.

Amazon says its Echo device kept asking for commands and then kept mishearing them.

There were fears raised after USA researchers found in 2016 that sounds unintelligible to humans could set off voice assistants.

Its retail giant's critics argue that by selling its "Rekognition" technology, which can identify, track and analyze people in real time, to USA law enforcement and local authorities, Amazon threatens civil freedoms.

Other reports by GizPress

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