Amazon Alexa shares man's recordings with stranger
Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, is under fire once again for failing to protect user privacy.
About 1,700 voice recordings from one person were shared with another user in Germany after the company made a “human error,” Reuters reported on Thursday. The second user asked to access his own recordings from his voice assistant, but was also granted access to thousands of files from a stranger – which included a man and woman talking in their home.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the company has resolved the issue between the two customers and is taking steps to improve its processes.
"This was an unfortunate case of human error and an isolated incident," the Amazon spokesperson said.
This isn’t the first time Alexa has come under fire over privacy concerns.
Earlier this year, a couple in Oregon claimed Alexa sent out a private recording to one of their contacts, without their instruction.
Users were also alarmed after some Echo devices began letting out unprompted “evil cackles.”
Amazon devices have also become central to some murder cases, as attorneys seek to use recordings by voice assistants as evidence.
But it’s not just Amazon. Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the consequences of a “smart home,” and which devices might be recording them without their knowledge or consent.
Earlier this month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before lawmakers on Capitol Hill regarding data privacy, among other topics. When asked if Google’s home assistant records users without their knowledge, Pichai said the device only records when users directly ask it a question or push the button to make a query. The feature can be turned off. The Google executive acknowledged that more needs to be done to give consumers better control over their personal data.