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Amazon's Alexa Recorded a Woman's Private Conversation and Sent it to a Contact

A woman in Portland recently had an alarming experience with her Alexa-enabled devices after a private conversation was recorded and sent to a random contact, according to a news report from Seattle's Kiro7 news.

The woman, Danielle, and her family had Amazon devices situated in each room for home control, and two weeks ago, one of those devices apparently recorded a conversation about hardwood floors and sent it to a person on their contact list. There are no details on how the recording was delivered to the contact.

But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. "The person on the other line said, 'unplug your Alexa devices right now,'" she said. "'You're being hacked.'"

That person was one of her husband's employees, calling from Seattle.

"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.'"
Danielle confirmed that the recordings received by the contact were indeed conversations picked up by her Alexa device, and in no way was she informed that Alexa was sending the recording to a contact. She contacted Amazon and was told that the "device just guessed what we were saying." Amazon apologized and told her it would fix the issue.

Alexa has an option to send a message to a contact name using a voice recording, but Alexa is supposed to vocally confirm such requests and does not appear to have done so in this instance.

In a statement to the Kiro7, Amazon said that it "takes privacy very seriously" and that the event was an "extremely rare occurrence" that it is taking steps to prevent in the future.

This is not the first strange Alexa behavior that Amazon has had to deal with. Back in March, Alexa made headlines after multiple customers with Alexa-enabled devices reported hearing creepy, unsolicited laughter.



Top Rated Comments

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10 months ago
Say what you want about Apple but Siri will never do such thing....she wouldn't recognize the command in the first place :p
Rating: 103 Votes
10 months ago
This is one of the reasons why I still have no idea why people put these devices in their homes voluntarily. HomePod included.
Rating: 75 Votes
10 months ago
Let's put internet connected speakers in every room of the house, because using a light switch, or checking the weather on my phone takes too much effort. What could go wrong?
Rating: 26 Votes
10 months ago
So, HomePod sounds better, listens better, and doesn't invade your privacy. But Siri still sucks a lot of the time. (And I am an Apple fanboy.)
Rating: 20 Votes
10 months ago
People are way too casual about privacy. I'd love to have an assistant that isn't an idiot, but privacy of data is much more important... So I guess I'll have to wait for Apple to fix Siri, because damn this kind of stuff...
Rating: 19 Votes
10 months ago
"All right, I've just sent $250,000 to your hairdresser via iMessage."
Rating: 16 Votes
10 months ago
I don't trust having these things in my home, always listening mics.. just feels invasive.
Rating: 12 Votes
10 months ago
Not totally surprising. Echo's exist so Amazon can sell you more products. I bought a HomePod and have found it to be a much better experience, from sounding amazing, to Siri hearing me from upstairs and over music, to HomeKit automation. I sold my Echo's and have been happy so far. I'd like a couple mini HomePod's for around the house.
Rating: 11 Votes
10 months ago
Does anyone honestly believe that defense contractors, Amazon in this case, aren’t actively participating in the surveillance program?

I get that cell phones are essentially trackers, but the glee people have put these stupid devices in their house with makes no sense to me.
Rating: 11 Votes
10 months ago
Welcome to the future of computers. We never had true privacy.

At least now we know.
Rating: 8 Votes

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