wnol.info June 23 2018

Amazon Alexa heard and sent private chat

June 23 2018, 04:36 | Alexander Lowe

Read time 2min 10sec Alexa can misinterpret conversation as a wake-up call and command

Alexa can misinterpret conversation as a wake-up call and command

With recent reports surfacing, "Alexa" Amazon's AI Assistant Device recorded a family's conversation and shared it to a random contact without them knowing it.

Danielle (surname withheld) told KIRO-TV she received a call from an employee of her husband who urged them to unplug their Echo devices, which use the Alexa software.

In its statement, the USA tech giant said the conversation had been inadvertently recorded and sent because the Echo device interpreted a word in the background conversation as "Alexa" - a command that triggers recording.

Amazon said in a statement to The Post Thursday afternoon that the Echo woke up when it heard a word that sounded like "Alexa".

Although Amazon may claim the string of events was "unlikely", what was likely is that an always-on technology that constantly listens to everything in a room could intentionally or accidentally record a conversation without the permission of the user to begin with.

"I felt invaded", she told KIRO7. At which point, Alexa said out loud "To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer's contact list".

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Amazon and Google say their speakers are created to record audio only when activated with a trigger word, such as "Alexa" or "Hey Google". She stated that the company representative did not answer why Alexa recorded her conversation, or if it is a common issue. Initially, the problem spawned thoughts of someone hacking into her system, with the employee suggesting she unplug her device before digging deeper.

But she said she'd much rather get a refund and says she's dumped all her Alexa devices from her home.

This isn't the first time that Amazon's smart speaker has garnered scrutiny over potential eavesdropping.

After unplugging the devices, which were throughout every room in her home and created to control lights and heating, Danielle called the company to find out what happened.

Amazon's Alexa keeps recordings of some of what you say. "Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request", a spokesman said. He also didn't explain why it could have happened. Only then is Alexa supposed to follow your commands, and send messages to others, if that's an ability you have activated on your Echo smart speakers. Amazon blamed the "extremely rare" incident on an unlikely sequence of events. The odd behaviour was the result of a misheard command for which Amazon adjusted Alexa to not laugh unsettlingly at random. Several users have reported that Alexa creepily laughed at them for no apparent reason.

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