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This article was published on May 24, 2018

Amazon can’t explain why Alexa recorded and shared a private conversation

Amazon can’t explain why Alexa recorded and shared a private conversation
Tristan Greene
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Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

A Portland couple recently contacted Amazon customer support after an Echo smart speaker secretly recorded a private conversation and sent it to a person on their contacts list. Lucky for them, they were talking about hardwood floors at the time.

But it’s still bad: They found out Alexa was snooping on them after one of the husband’s employees called them to say they’d just received an odd communication: a recording of a conversation between the couple.

According to a report from Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO7, Danielle, who asked her last name be withheld, said they didn’t believe it at first. But after the recipient sent her the actual recordings, she then “felt invaded.”

It gets worse: Amazon’s support personnel didn’t shed any light on how or why this happened. Danielle claims she was told that engineers went through all the logs to see what happened, and they’re very sorry, but she’s been given no explanation.

Amazon confirmed the incident with KIRO7, but reportedly hasn’t offered up any explanations. We’ve also reached out to find out the extent of the problem.

In the wake of Amazon’s decision to participate in government surveillance programs, we can’t help be be incredibly worried about the more than 40 million listening devices the company has managed to get into consumer’s homes recently.