Wednesday 26th September 2018

Amazon smart speaker recorded woman’s private conversation and sent it to her husband’s contact

The device recorded the woman's conversation and sent it to one of her husband's contacts in Seattle without her permission. She only discovered her conversation had been distributed after her husband's contact called her home.
Jason Smith
by on 24th May 2018

An Amazon smart speaker recorded a woman’s personal conversation and sent it to one of her husband’s contacts in Seattle without her permission, according to a report by Kiro 7 news.

According to the report, Danielle, who doesn’t wish to disclose her surname, only discovered the device was distributing personal conversations after her husband’s contact called her home and stated, “unplug your Alexa devices right now…you’re being hacked”.

During the call, the contact told Danielle that he’d received audio calls of recordings from inside her house. After she initially expressed disbelief, the contact then told her of recent conversations she had with her family about hardwood floors, at which point she stated, “oh gosh, you really did hear us”.

Danielle then immediately unplugged every Amazon device in her home and contacted the e-commerce giant, which sent an Alexa engineer to investigate.

“I felt invaded,” said Danielle. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it’”.

According to the report, the Alexa engineer went through the logs and confirmed Danielle’s version of events. She also states he apologized nearly 15 times in 30 minutes and stated, “this is something we need to fix”.

UPDATE: Following Indivigital’s request for comment, an Amazon spokesperson stated, “Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa.’

“Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list.

“Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right’. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely”.

Danielle has also asked Amazon to refund her purchases, however she claims the tech giant has thus far refused to do so.

Users’ frequently utilize smart speakers for a range of operations including voice search, listening to music or news reports or home automation. In the first quarter of 2018, Amazon shipped over 2.5 million Amazon Echo devices, which is a 28 percent share of the market.