Technology

Amazon Echo allegedly records family conversation and forwards to another device

Amazon Echo allegedly records family conversation and forwards to another device

But it happened to a couple in Portland where an Echo Dot smart speaker, powered by Alexa, reportedly secretly recorded a private conversation between a husband and wife and sent it to the man's colleague.

The unusual story of technology gone wild takes us to Portland, Oregon, where a woman named Danielle, who declined to give her last name to local media, said her Echo smart speaker recorded a private conversation she had with her husband.

The recipient spilled that in the recording, Danielle and her husband were talking about hardwood floors.

Danielle said when she contacted Amazon, an Alexa engineer confirmed the conversation had been recorded and sent it to a contact without their consent. Even Amazon agrees that this was an unlikely chain of events, but says it is working on ways to make it even more unlikely to repeat.

Nonetheless, Danielle said she felt "invaded".

It wasn't until a random contact called to let them know that he'd received a call from Alexa that they realized their device had mistakenly transmitted a private conversation. "Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right".

What is said on Alexa should stay on Alexa. Alexa then interpreted background conversation as "right". "Immediately I said, 'I'm never plugging that device in again, because I can't trust it'".

In the above statement, Amazon blamed Alexa for misinterpreting the background conversation as commands given to the smart speaker.

While Alexa makes certain tasks easier by following voice commands, it is learning more about you than you might expect, and it's terrifying some customers. She also said the devices can control heating, lighting, and her security system. "The subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request". "You are being hacked", is what the caller told Danielle and her husband, who have an Amazon Echo speaker in their home.

The engineer did not explain why it happened, though. This time it appears to have recorded an entire conversation that it wasn't supposed to, before forwarding it to one of the owners' contacts. He just said that the device guessed what they were saying. A spokesperson for the company said it had "determined this was an extremely rare occurrence".

In a statement, Amazon said: "Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future". Amazon is yet to clarify this, but many users of the home speakers will ask whether there are cases where Alexa could be recording without their explicit permission.