According to KIRO-TV, a local news station in Portland, Oregon, a family of four said that their Alexa, a voice-controlled smart speaker from Amazon, recorded a private conversation and sent it to someone in their contacts without permission.
A USA couple was horrified to find out that their private conversation was recorded by Amazon's Echo voice-controlled device and sent to a work contact. In a written statement to KIRO, Amazon called the incident "an extremely rare occurrence", vowing to take measures never to let this happen again.
A woman named Danielle, who declined to give her last name, told KIRO that she and her husband used to joke about Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa spying on them, until they got a disturbing phone call. After calling multiple times and speaking with an assortment of Amazon employees, the family finally spoke with an Amazon engineer. Alexa then interpreted background conversation as "right".
"Unplug your Alexa devices right now", the staffer told the couple, who did not wish to be fully identified, "you're being hacked".
"I felt invaded, like total privacy invasion", Danielle said.
"Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like "Alexa.' Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request", Amazon said in a statement". Alexa then interpreted background conversation as "right". The family unplugged the devices and contacted Amazon after they had learned the recording had been sent.
There were also worries in 2016 when scientists found that voice assistants could be woken up by sounds unintelligible to humans.
Each of the homes is expected to have multiple Echo devices, although details on the exact devices which will be integrated are not yet known and Kumar said it going to be a multi-year project.
Amazon's Alexa keeps recordings of some of what you say. "These are potential surveillance devices, and we have invited them further and further into our lives without examining how that could go wrong".
Amazon's Alexa device has a lot of good qualities, but one bad one: It eavesdrops.
But with the latest case of Alexa recording and then sending a private conversation without user's knowledge, questions will be raised around what triggered this. The company assured customers it had since fixed the flaw, but this new glitch is yet another cause for worry.