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

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 24, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    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.

    Article Link: Amazon's Alexa Recorded a Woman's Private Conversation and Sent it to a Contact
  2. Goldfrapp macrumors 601


    Jul 31, 2005
    "All right, I've just sent $250,000 to your hairdresser via iMessage."
  3. CerebralX macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2013
    Looking for a place of freedom and rationality
    This is one of the reasons why I still have no idea why people put these devices in their homes voluntarily. HomePod included.
  4. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    Welcome to the future of computers. We never had true privacy.

    At least now we know.
  5. PotatoLeekSoup macrumors regular

    May 10, 2015
    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.)
  6. polee, May 24, 2018
    Last edited: May 24, 2018

    polee macrumors 6502a


    Jul 22, 2008
    Omg this is scary. A warning to those who always rush to get the latest toys...
  7. BeefCake 15 macrumors 65816

    BeefCake 15

    May 15, 2015
    near Boston, MA
    Say what you want about Apple but Siri will never do such thing....she wouldn't recognize the command in the first place :p
  8. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    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.
  9. Z400Racer37 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
    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...
  10. Braderunner macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2015
    Ouch! Amazon's got some splainin to do. And, maybe another lawsuit. o_O
  11. rafark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2017
  12. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    While this is indeed troubling, given that there is no such thing as bug-free software this type of side effect is going to happen. Once it does, a family/home risk analysis is in order. Can you live with the occasional random bug? If so, don't stress. If not, unplug. The real concern is how... and how quickly... Amazon responds. Fortunately because of their software model those fixes are automatically applied as soon as possible.

    For me (YMMV) I can live with this. I don't, however, connect Alexa to anything financial or to my home security system. Lights, Devices, and Music are my staples.
  13. itsmilo macrumors 68020


    Sep 15, 2016
    Now that you mention it, I don’t think Amazon has updated their privacy rules for GDPR yet
  14. rafark macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2017
    You don't know for sure. These are for-profit corporations at the end of the day.
  15. theheadguy macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2005
    LOL. I can't find the YouTube clip of Disney's Aristocats but it reminds me of the scene where one dog is talking to the other dog about a car that he hears in the distance and is asked "what color car is it" and at first he begins to answer (appearing to listen for the color of the car) and then says, "now how would I know that?!" :D:D

  16. DNichter macrumors 604


    Apr 27, 2015
    Philadelphia, PA
    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.
  17. apb87 macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    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?
  18. dwaltwhit macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2013
    since this is the only time I have heard of anything like this, I will assume this is either an anomaly or an instance of the woman not hearing the confirmation from alexa. The idea that this is indicative of amazon's intention to eavesdrop on consumers seems like it would need to meet a pretty high bar of proof.
  19. apb87 macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Amazon will later determine that she was talking incorrectly.
  20. Quu macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I don't trust having these things in my home, always listening mics.. just feels invasive.
  21. McTool macrumors 6502


    Feb 14, 2016
  22. Cosmosent macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2016
    La Jolla, CA
  23. OneBagTravel macrumors 6502


    Oct 18, 2013
  24. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Just another reason why I got rid of my Google Home devices.

    Though, I sure hope my Apple HomePod doesn't ever do something like this! o_O
  25. tech3475 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2011
    Not too surprised, I have several Echo Dots and they can get triggered easily at times.

    One reason why I didn't link my phone to it outside of using the Alexa app.

    These things can be handy, but you still need to be careful.

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