Sunday, 20 January, 2019


Amazon Alexa sends 1,700 voice recordings to wrong user

A man in Germany is said to have been sent the files after he requested to review his Amazon data in accordance with a European Union data protection law Amazon employee error shares thousands of Alexa recordings with a random user
Melba Vasquez | 23 December, 2018, 01:05

A female voice speaking to Alexa indicates that he has also a female companion.

A user of Amazon's smart assistant Alexa was sent 1,700 audio files from a complete stranger, after he requested access to his own recordings.

"Suddenly, we found ourselves in the intimate sphere of strangers without their knowledge", a representative for c*t said.

Amazon also confirmed that it had apologised to the two customers and had been in touch with regulatory authorities including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation administrators.

Days later, both the victim and the receiver of the files were called by Amazon to discuss the incident.

"This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case", an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.

"We resolved the issue with the 2 customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes".

After being notified of the issue, Amazon has since deleted the files it sent to the German man, but not before he downloaded them onto his own computer. If the files are not deleted, under GDRP rules in Europe, users are able to request a all this data in a downloadable format.

Notably, this is not the first time that Amazon has been caught in a tight spot. From the recordings, which cover the entire month of May 2018, they were able to determine that he has a Fire TV and an Echo box, and that he uses Alexa to control a smart home thermostat as well as his phone. It turns out, that for one Amazon Alexa user in Germany - and let's be honest, likely many more - those concerns are completely justified.

The artificial intelligence powered assistant, which first launched in the United Kingdom in 2016 with the first generation Echo smart speakers, can be used to answer questions and queries as well as respond to commands around playing music and giving news and weather updates.

It's not an Alexa bug, but "a human error" made by the company, Reuters explains.

Reports from other research firms earlier this year suggested Google was shipping more of its Home units than Amazon was shipping Echo units, and that Amazon's market share already had dipped below 50%.

Amazon has not made it clear exactly how human error caused this insane privacy violation, because of course they haven't.

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