Amazon's Alexa sends private conversation to a random contact

Amazon's Alexa sends private conversation to a random contact

A woman in OR broke up with her Amazon Echo devices after they recorded a private conversation and then sent it to someone on the family's contact list.

Amazon wants Alexa to become a popular home accessory, used for everything from dimming the lights to ordering a pizza, but to achieve this, it must be able to assure users of the device's security.

Danielle said when she contacted Amazon, an Alexa engineer confirmed the conversation had been recorded and sent it to a contact without their consent. The couple who did not wish to reveal their full identity spoke to KIRO7 on a first name basis.

The report points out the call warning them to unplug their Alexa devices was from one of her husband's employees in Seattle to whom Alexa had sent the private conversation. Amazon pointed out the incident as a very rare and unfortunate occurrence and explained how it might have happened. "At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list", said the statement. "Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right". "You are being hacked", is what the caller told Danielle and her husband, who have an Amazon Echo speaker in their home.

In a more detailed explanation of what could have provoked the 'glitch, ' the company told TechCrunch that Alexa, which is supposed to be activated upon hearing its 'name, ' had most likely mistaken some of the words in the conversation for an eerily coincidental string of commands. It also sounds like Amazon might have a real Alexa to fix. The spokesperson goes on say that this is no incident of Alexa spying on users. This was a conversation Danielle didn't know was being recorded.

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Amazon has taken a lot of heat in the past because of conspiracy theories suggesting that the device might be sharing conversations with Central Intelligence Agency and NSA.

When reached Friday, an Amazon spokeswoman would not comment about whether the company will issue a refund. Initially, the problem spawned thoughts of someone hacking into her system, with the employee suggesting she unplug her device before digging deeper. Back in March this year, Alexa was in news after it made random creepy laughs.

The company has since asked Danielle if she and her husband wanted to disable the Alexa communication by putting it into a "de-provisioned" mode.

It's unknown if the couple had the volume turned all the way down on their device or if they just didn't hear Alexa's multiple spoken replies during the message process.

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