I have an Amazon Echo, better known as, Alexa in my apartment and I’ve always wondered if she has a mind of her own. There are random times that she hears something on television that she believes to be an instruction to her and she chimes in with a report, a weather update or something else. If you have Alexa in your home then you have probably experienced something similar.
First, this should stand as a warning that the device is truly ALWAYS listening to what’s being said in the home within her ear shot. Now, if you’re wondering about the ability to record and send conversations then allow the following information to be proof of that being a reality.
A man in North Carolina received a phone call from his insurance agent about a message they received that contained a private conversation he had in his home. The man has 3 of the devices throughout his home and one afternoon he was having a humorous discussion with his wife when Alexa decided to record and send without his permission. (Source)
The widespread belief is that the device will only record a conversation under command and will only send to people listed in your contacts but this proves to not be the case. The man told his local news station, “I’m OK with some cutting-edge technology, but this really was a huge privacy violation,” he said. “It caught a humorous conversation, but it really could have picked up any conversation that we wouldn’t want other people to hear. It just blew my mind that, without knowing that I asked to send it, nor did it verify that I wanted to send it, that it sent the message.”
This makes me not feel silly about unplugging Alexa from time to time. I don’t think it’s totally necessary to always have her listening or eavesdropping. It almost feels silly to say that but this is the prime example of what you don’t want to happen. There’s no telling what you may have talked about that she has heard and relayed to somebody without you knowing. Luckily, this man’s insurance agent was kind of enough to let him know what happened.
Further, the ONLY to disable the messaging feature is to CALL AMAZON and have them disable it. You cannot do it from the app or personally. However, there are settings that you can change to mute Alexa from speaking or listening.
Either way, this could be totally dangerous and intrusive if access slipped into the wrong hands.
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