Home Security Amazon Echo smart assistant caught spying on US woman

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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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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