Amazon users gain new privacy controls after backlash

Amazon employees could hear private conversations

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Amazon has responded to a privacy furore by giving users the option to prevent employees from listening to their private voice recordings.

The tech giant recently confirmed Amazon staff used recordings from its virtual assistant Alexa to improve the device’s software and understanding of language.

However there have been multiple reports of Amazon staff and contractors hearing private conversations during their work.

One report said Amazon staff had heard private moments including health discussions and couples having sex.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We take customer privacy seriously and continuously review our practices and procedures.”

“For Alexa, we already offer customers the ability to opt out of having their voice recordings used to help develop new Alexa features.”

They added: “We’ll also be updating information we provide to customers to make our practices more clear.”

Google and Apple have also confirmed employees had been able to listen to private conversations, and have suspended the use of human reviewers.

Amazon will not stop using humans to analyse recordings, however users will now have the option to opt out by disabling a privacy setting labelled “help improve Amazon services and develop new features”.

They can also delete existing recordings via the privacy settings, or saying “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”.

All three companies have said only a small percentage of recordings are reviewed by humans.

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