COLUMBIA – Smart speakers listen and send your personal conversations to the cloud.
Amazon has a global team of employees who listen, record and transcribe over 1,000 audio recordings each day. The company said its employees listened to the conversations so that the algorithms could be adapted to everyday conversations and regular queries.
"By default, Echo devices are designed to detect only the selected wake-up word (Alexa, Amazon, Computer or Echo). The device detects the waking word by identifying acoustic patterns corresponding to the waking word. No sound is stored or sent to the cloud unless the device detects the waking-up word (or Alexa is activated by pressing a button), "said a spokesman. ; Amazon.
Sandy Davidson, a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, said that sharing information was a violation of privacy.
"What Alexa allows, it's the intrusion into your isolation and Amazon has not made people aware of what it's capable of doing," Davidson said.
By law, there are two places that require the most privacy: your home and your office. Amazon allows users to disable information-sharing features, but Davidson said that was not enough.
"People need to be warned before introducing this type of intrusive technology into their living spaces," she said.
Jackie O'Rourke has a built-in voiceless Bluetooth speaker, like Alexa or Siri. She said that she would not buy any speakers doing more than just music because of the risks to privacy.
"How do they have your permission to do that?" She says.
The information gathered by the smart speakers was used in the audience room. Prosecutors have for example summoned recordings of an Echo smart speaker in connection with murder trials. Davidson still sees it as an invasion of privacy.
"If the police can use subpoenas to obtain this information, it will certainly facilitate the resolution of certain crimes. But price is the problem, "said Davidson.
Amazon provides instructions to prevent smart devices from recording conversations. People like Davidson said that consumers should assume that all devices are able to listen to interactions and expect further lawsuits against technology companies such as Amazon.