Alexa did send a private conversation to a random person but there is a reason

Alexa sometimes get confused. Anyone with an Amazon Echo will know this. Once it turned on my bedroom light, instead of playing soothing music through a Sonos. Bad Alexa. 

What is hasn’t done yet has sent private conversations to a seemingly random person, but this has just happened to someone.

Speaking to KIRO-TV in Seattle (which just happens to be the home of Amazon), an Echo user named Danielle was contacted by a friend who recommended she unplug her Alexa devices as she “was being hacked”.

This was because they had been sent an audio conversation recorded by Alexa, where Danielle and her husband were talking about hardwood floors. This was a conversation Danielle didn’t know was being recorded.

Daisy, daisy...

This would seem to confirm that Alexa is recording at least snippets of conversation without using the wake word, but Amazon is insisting this isn’t the case. What actually happened was quite a big mix-up on behalf of the Alexa-enabled device and sounds like one of those bad days in the office you’d rather forget. 

In a statement, Amazon explained: “Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa’. Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right’.”

Well, that’s quite a turn of events, something even Amazon admits, continuing: “As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

Given privacy is at the top of everyone’s conversation at the moment, with GDPR in full effect Amazon will be hoping this “extremely rare occurrence” won’t happen again.

Via The Guardian

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.