Science & Tech

Do not put an Amazon Alexa device in your bedroom, expert warns

Woman catches boyfriend cheating 'thanks to Amazon Alexa recordings'

Some people will have been gifted an Amazon Alexa for Christmas and while it may be exciting to set up the device, an electronics expert warned owners of the gadget not to put it in their bedroom.

The AI assistant is voice-activated and can inform consumers about a wide range of subjects such as the news and weather, as well as play music and games, set alarms and answer any questions you have on your mind.

The gadget also begins listening after it detects the wake word but Dr Hannah Fry, a mathematician and expert on tech company algorithms at University College London noted how "it keeps recording for a short period afterwards."

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For this reason, she told the Liverpool Echo that the device should not be put in the bedroom.

"I think there are some spaces in your home, like the bedroom and bathroom, which should remain completely private," Dr Fry said.

"This technology is activated by a trigger word but it keeps recording for a short period afterwards. People accept that, but we should all spend more time thinking about what it means for us."

Dr Fry also detailed how she sent a request to Amazon for her data which had some of her conversations that were taken from within her home.

Though there is something consumers can do to turn off Alexa from recording some of the conversations, here is a step-by-step guide:

  • On the Alexa mobile app, go into settings
  • Press Alexa privacy and then select "Manage Your Alexa Data".
  • Choose the "How Long to Save Recordings" option
  • Tap "Don't Save Recordings" and press "Confirm"

An Amazon spokesperson said, as per Liverpool Echo: "Echo devices are designed to record audio only after the device detects your chosen wake word (Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Ziggy or Computer). Customers will always know when Alexa is sending your request to the cloud because a blue light indicator will appear on your Echo device.

"We manually review only a small fraction of one percent of Alexa requests to help improve Alexa.

"Access to these review tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service. Our review process does not associate voice recordings with any customer identifiable information.

"Customers can also easily opt-out of having their voice recordings included in the fraction of one percent of voice recordings that get reviewed."

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