Home Security Amazon Echo smart assistant caught spying on US woman
Amazon Echo smart assistant caught spying on US woman Featured

Amazon Echo smart assistants have received a great deal of puff in the media but the devices may be surreptitiously recording conversations and sending them to random people in the address book of a user, as was demonstrated in a US case this week.

This is what happened to a woman in Portland, Oregon, who contacted the company to complain that audio of a private conversation of hers was sent to a random person in Seattle who was on her family's contact list.

A report on the website of the TV channel Kiro7 said that the woman, who was named as Danielle and did not wish to provide her surname, wanted to return the Echo devices and obtain a refund, Amazon was unwilling to take them back.

Every room in Danielle's house was wired with the devices to control heating, lighting and the intrusion detection system.

The person who received the audio file of a conversation between Danielle and her husband was one of his employees who called to tell her to unplug all the Amazon devices.

"We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house," she said.

"At first, my husband was, like, 'no you didn't!' And the (recipient of the message) said 'You sat there talking about hardwood floors.' And we said, 'oh gosh, you really did hear us'."

An Alexa engineer whom Danielle contacted did not offer any specifics about the eavesdropping, only saying that the device had guessed what was being said.

"They said 'our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry'. He apologised like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!" she said.

There was no indication whether the auto-forwarding is enabled in all Echo devices or not.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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