Ex-Amazon exec admits he turns off Alexa because ‘workers do listen in’

A former Amazon executive has admitted he switches off his Alexa speaker when he wants a "private moment" because he says workers are listening in.

Robert Frederick said on tonight's BBC Panorama show Amazon: What They Know About Us: "I turn off my Alexa whenever I want to have a private moment.

"I don't want certain conversations to be heard by humans.

"Conversations that I know for a fact are not things that should be shared then I turn off those particular listening devices."

In response, Amazon said: "It is surprising that someone who left Amazon 14 years ago is being quoted, about a technology that was developed a decade after he left.

"His quotes do not accurately portray how Alexa works. We take privacy very seriously at Amazon and designing Alexa was no different.

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"Echo devices are designed to detect only your chosen wake word. No audio is stored or sent to the cloud unless the device detects the wake word.

"Customers can review and delete voice recordings at any time in the Alexa App, as well as, choose to have them automatically deleted every 3 or 18 months on an ongoing basis.

"To help improve Alexa, we manually review and annotate a small fraction of one percent of Alexa requests.

"Access to data annotation tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service, and our annotation process does not associate voice recordings with any customer identifiable information.

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

And James Marcus, who worked as a senior editor for Amazon from 1996 to 2001, added: "I simply hate the idea of voluntarily putting a bug into my living room, and knowing that that some schmo in Seattle might be listening to it on a headset.

  • Amazon

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