Employees Who Listen to Amazon Alexa Requests Can Access Customers' Home Addresses

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Earlier this month, Bloomberg shared details on the thousands of employees that Amazon employs around the world to listen to voice recordings captured in the homes of Amazon Echo owners when the Alexa wake word is spoken, with the purpose of improving the service.

    There was some concerning information in the report, including employee access to private recordings, recordings that are upsetting or potentially criminal, and an employee tendency to share private recordings in group work chat environments. As it turns out, there's something Alexa owners should be even more worried about -- some of these employees have access to the home addresses of Amazon customers.

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    In a new report on the team Amazon employs to listen to Amazon Echo recordings, Bloomberg says that employees have access to location data and can "easily find a customer's home address" by typing geographic coordinates into third-party mapping software. The new information was shared by five anonymous Amazon employees who spoke to Bloomberg.
    Bloomberg saw a demonstration where an Amazon team member pasted a user's coordinates (stored on Amazon's servers as latitude and longitude) into Google Maps, finding the address for the user linked to the recording in less than a minute. It's not clear how many people are able to access that system, though two Amazon employees said that until recently, the "vast majority" of workers in the Alexa Data Services group could use the software.

    Certain employees on the data team listening to recordings have access to home and work addresses for customers along with phone numbers and access to their contacts if the person has chosen to share contacts with Alexa, all for the purpose of improving requests.

    That employees can access specific location data for an individual customer is concerning because after the original report, Amazon had this to say: "Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow."

    In a new statement provided to Bloomberg, Amazon said something different, calling access to internal tools "highly controlled."
    Amazon, says Bloomberg, appears to be restricting the level of access that employees have to sensitive customer data, and after the original story, some of the workers who transcribe and annotate audio recordings no longer had access to software tools they had previously used.

    Alexa users concerned with the data that's being collected and used by Amazon should make sure to enable all privacy features and uncheck the option for letting Amazon save Echo recordings.

    Article Link: Employees Who Listen to Amazon Alexa Requests Can Access Customers' Home Addresses
     
  2. sputnikv macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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    This is a scandal that warrants more attention than it's getting.
     
  3. benshive macrumors regular

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    #3
    Not really surprising. Same as all of those people who were surprised when they found out that a bunch of Google devs have access to people's emails.
     
  4. outskirtsofinfinity macrumors regular

    outskirtsofinfinity

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    #4
    No way I'll allow one of those listening doohickies into my home...
     
  5. repoman016 macrumors member

    repoman016

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    #5
    surprise! Company that collects user data is collecting more than we thought or cared to read about in the lengthy TOS! *shocking*
     
  6. Benjamin Frost Suspended

    Benjamin Frost

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    #6
    Why I will never use a voice assistant.

    Don't think that Apple's boast of anonymity is true. How can you trust them? I'm sure that if they inadvertently heard a bomb plot, they would be able to track the device.
     
  7. CE3 macrumors 65816

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    #7
    If Amazon’s Ring and Alexa employees have this much access to sensitive private data, it makes you wonder how easy it would be for other organizations to have backdoor keys, too. All these “always listening” virtual assistants are low-hanging fruit for sweeping intelligence gathering.
     
  8. BvizioN macrumors 601

    BvizioN

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    #8
    Folks, you could either have a smart voice assistant that does collect a lot of your data or a "daft" one that only lives inside your phone (AKA Siri). I don't think you could have both right now. And also I think there is a reason why Siri still sucks.
     
  9. eightdotthree macrumors newbie

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    Oh ****!!!! Amazon employees have access to my address?!?! This is just bonkers!
     
  10. realtuner macrumors 6502a

    realtuner

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    #10
    This just keeps getting better and better.
     
  11. StellarVixen macrumors 68000

    StellarVixen

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    #11
    Nobody cares. It should be clear by now.


    People are still using Facebook and Instagram. People are still using Google. People will still be using Amazon, despite the fact that all these companies have ugly history of blatantly and shamelessly violating user privacy.


    You are preaching to the choir.
     
  12. outskirtsofinfinity macrumors regular

    outskirtsofinfinity

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    #12
    If you, hypothetically, murdered someone, and Amazon employees heard it, - for them to have your address would violate your constitutional rights, I guess? You'd be upset, at the very least.
     
  13. calzon65 macrumors 6502a

    calzon65

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    #13
    Voice is just the start, what about video cameras making their way into homes.
     
  14. CE3 macrumors 65816

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    #14
  15. Altis macrumors 68030

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    #15
    It's almost as if there's an interest in keeping people unaware of these issue.
     
  16. now i see it macrumors 68040

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    #16
    another spying device hidden under the veil of convenient whatever
     
  17. calzon65 macrumors 6502a

    calzon65

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    #17
    I wondered the same thing about someone committing a crime and being heard by someone monitoring the monitoring devices flooding the market.

    There are a lot of unintended consequences that most people are not contemplating. Most people are being swept up in the hoopla of these monitoring devices.
     
  18. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

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    #18
    This is getting way out of control! If these companies don’t start doing self regulation, then the government(s) are going to step in and they are going to wish that never happened.
    Every day now we hear this kind of news. I’m tired of it!
     
  19. gugy macrumors 68040

    gugy

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    #19
    I'm glad I don't have any of these devices and are not planning getting one anytime soon.
     
  20. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #20
    Next thing you know, we'll be required to rage against Goldstein for 2 minutes a day. Double plus ungood, bruh... I mean... Big Bruh.
     
  21. eightdotthree macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Yes, I would be very upset if I murdered someone and was caught.
     
  22. MistrSynistr macrumors 65816

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    #22
    These devices sole original purpose is to collect data/voice/recordings of you to use for blackmail purposes later down the line should your name come up against something their controllers are pushing.

    You can talk all you want about how you aren't "doing anything sketchy/illegal" but you must understand the powers that be will CHANGE the rules on you when you least expect it to make certain things you do fit into that criteria.
     
  23. EM2013 macrumors 68000

    EM2013

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    #23
    Yet everyone:
     

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  24. repoman016 macrumors member

    repoman016

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    #24
    GREAT point.

    Look at what yearbooks are doing to people in politics from 30+ years ago.

    Imagine in 20 years "we have your voice saying you hate x or dont believe in y, care to explain?"
     
  25. cmaier macrumors G5

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    #25
    Alexa is not uniformly better than Siri.
     

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118 April 24, 2019