Times Jeff Bezos Tried To Warn Us Amazon Is Listening

Amazon Echo Link Amp goes on sale for audiophile Alexa fans

Furthermore, it said employees don't have access to the identity of the person speaking, and any information that may have been included in the voice recording is treated with high confidentiality.

According to a Bloomberg report, Amazon uses voice recordings to improve Alexa's functionality and to help develop new features for the smart speaker.

Staff would then share some recordings among themselves through an internal Amazon chat room when they were hard to understand - or if they found them amusing.

In a statement given to Bloomberg, Amazon said: "We take the security and privacy of our customers' personal information seriously".

But the fact that human beings and not just artificial intelligence algorithms are listening into Alexa conversations, is sure to raise privacy concerns among some. The ability to hear what is being said only kicks in when the user triggers the wake command to the voice assistant, which means saying either "Alexa", "Amazon", "computer" or "Echo".

They continued: "We have strict technical and operational safeguards and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system".

But in the case of Amazon, Bloomberg sheds light on the literal thousands of Amazon employees around the world tasked with listening to Alexa recordings. These workers listen to up to 1,000 audio clips during each nine-hour shift.

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Although Amazon reportedly has procedures in place for when potential criminal conduct is heard, two workers in Romania told Bloomberg that they were told it isn't Amazon's job to interfere.

Alexa software is created to continuously record snatches of audio listening for its wake word, Bloomberg alleged, adding that clips assessed by workers included what they believed to be sexual assault and a child screaming. "Only recordings after the wake work are ever streamed to Amazon".

The company also promised to fix a bug in its virtual assistant after reports the device was randomly laughing at people. Google and Apple both have humans reviewing conversations with the Google Assistant and Siri respectively, to improve the digital assistants and make sure they are interpreting requests correctly. The group explained that all information would be strictly confidential and it will work with access restrictions and encryption.

"I think most people probably don't even realize that Alexa is taking account of what's going on in your house, in addition to responding to your demands", said New Hampshire University Law Professor Albert Scherr at time of the investigation.

Ironically, at Google, employees are only allowed access to a very small and distorted audio clip that is completely unidentifiable.

And don't forget that all three devices also have an additional, nearly magical feature that can be used to comprehensively address every type of privacy concern: the power cord.

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