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Amazon Alexa keeps conversations forever and shares them

Jacob Yothment

Published

“Alexa, erode my privacy.”

Alexa

Recently, Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) sent a letter to  Amazon with privacy concerns about the Alexa. Specifically, Coons asked about how long Alexa keeps user data, and how they use it. 

Amazon responded by saying that Amazon kept transcripts of interactions with Alexa, and, in some cases, kept them even after customers “deleted them.” As Coons later tweeted, Amazon was not clear about what is done with these transcripts and who they are being sent to:

Here’s Amazon’s response.

Why does Alexa record conversations in the first place?

Alexa listening

As Amazon said in its letter to Coons, Alexa is constantly evolving and getting smarter. In order to do this, it needs to learn more about human language to better understand us.

As Vice President of Public Policy for Amazon, Brian Huseman wrote to Coons, “Training Alexa with voice recordings and transcripts from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone.”

However, there is already evidence of our conversations being used for malicious purposes. It was recently revealed that Amazon employees are listening in on us through Alexa, and are sharing conversations they find interesting with other employees. 

The idea that Amazon employees could possibly be hearing intimate moments in our homes, and are sharing them is disconcerting.

How do I delete the conversations that Alexa recorded?

Alexa

If you want to see what conversations Alexa has recorded, you can either access the Alexa Privacy Settings on your Alexa app or click here to view them on your browser. 

Amazon Alexa Download Free ►
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From here, you can listen to the recordings, and delete whichever ones you’d like. However, according to the letter from Amazon, not all transcripts will be deleted. For example, the letter said that transcripts that deal with transactions and routines often won’t be deleted even if you manually delete them.  According to the letter, deleting those completely could stop routines from occurring and are required for transactions. As these were just examples, what now begs to be seen is what other conversations is Alexa keeping, and who is she sending them to.

What should you do?

Some of you might be about to use Alexa as a hockey puck and slapshot it as far away from you as possible.

The problem is that Amazon is far from the only company that has serious privacy concerns. Apple products have been known to record us, and don’t even get us started on Facebook.

If these privacy issues concern you, it might be time to ditch Alexa. However, please realize that there are plenty of other things in your life serving as microphones to the outside world.

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