Amazon Alexa user given access to stranger’s conversations

Prompts on how to use Amazon's Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience center’ in Vallejo California U.S

The Amazon customer wanted to listen to recordings of his own interactions with the smart speaker, at which point he discovered he was also able to access 1,700 audio files belonging to someone else.

"This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case". "We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes. We were also in touch on a precautionary basis with the relevant regulatory authorities".

The first customer had initially got no reply when he told Amazon about the access to the other recordings, the report said.

Who asks as a regular customer of with reference to the General data protection regulation (DSGVO), which the company stores more than a, gets sent to an extensive data package. He opened some of these recordings but was unable to recognise any, German magazine Heise reported.

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A man and woman could be overheard conversing on the recordings, according to c't. The magazine said the audio files, in German, revealed a lot of information about the person, including where he lived, first and last names, who his partner is, and his taste in music.

What happened: The man asked for a copy of all the data Amazon holds on him. The reason given is one of "human error". Furthermore, the recordings showed that the man had an Alexa-controlled thermostat, and used Alexa in his house and outside. In May, a Portland, Oregon family found out that their Echo had mistakenly recorded some of their conversations and sent the recordings to an acquaintance. The man, who wasn't identified and who had never used one of Amazon's voice-activated assistants, received recordings made inside a stranger's home.

The customer contacted Amazon about the incident but nothing came out of it; he made a decision to contact CT and provided CT with a sample of the files.

Users of voice assistants and smart speakers-including Amazon's competitors, like Google Home-consent to having their queries stored for data analysis and refinement of voice recognition algorithms, as part of the terms of use of those services. It's not clear if the data mix-up is considered a breach under that law.


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