Woman says Alexa recorded conversations, sent them to random contact

from the New York Post:

Alexa recorded conversations

Shhh… Alexa might be listening.

Amazon’s Alexa recorded an Oregon woman’s private conversations and sent them to a random contact in her family’s address book, she told local station KIRO 7 in a report published Thursday.

The woman, who only wanted to use her first name, Danielle, told the station that her family’s Portland home is wired with Amazon systems to control everything from heat to light and security.

“My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” she said.

Two weeks ago she received an alarming phone call from one of her husband’s employees in Seattle telling her: “Unplug your Alexa devices right now, you’re being hacked,” she recalled.

The employee told her he had received audio files of Danielle’s conversations with her husband, about things like hardwood floors, that the couple remembered having inside their home.

“I felt invaded,” she said. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.'”

“A husband and wife in the privacy of their home have conversations that they’re not expecting to be sent to someone (in) their address book,” she added.

She said an Alexa engineer investigated and confirmed the machine had recorded her and sent the audio files.

“He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!” she said.

The engineer didn’t say why the glitch happened or why Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant, didn’t inform Danielle it was preparing to send the files, something it’s programmed to do, she said.

Amazon did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment Thursday but sent the station a statement saying that its engineers had investigated the incident and determined it “was an extremely rare occurrence.”

“Amazon takes privacy very seriously,” Amazon said. “We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”

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