What Exactly Amazon Alexa Does with Your Voice Data?

2019-07-02 14:50

US Senator Chris Сoons received an official response to his letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In the letter, Сoons asked about how long Alexa's voice records and transcripts are stored, and also what this data is used for. The received answer can't be named pleasing.

What information is stored by Alexa?

Some operations, including ordering a pizza, calling Uber, buying digital content, require Alexa to save records automatically. However, it can save and store other records of your speech as well. You can manually disable this option, and still, Alexa would gather some of your voice recordings. Creepy, isn't it?

Moreover, the user can delete only those sound recordings in which his reference to the assistant is present. There are still records that can not be deleted. At the request of user, entries can be removed from all major Amazon storage systems completely. All these factors made US lawyers and senator Coons, in particular, speak out about Alexa's privacy terms.

Amazon representatives answer

In the answering letter to the senator, Amazon vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman tries to assure the public that Amazon had an "ongoing effort to ensure those transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa's other storage systems." Alexa can store your personal info indefinitely and deletes it only if you manually delete such voice recordings of your conversations.

What is more important, still there is an option for Alexa to save some data which was manually deleted by users. This is explained by the fact that some recordings, like hailing rideshare or ordering a pizza, include the fact of the transaction, and this info is needed to be kept for means of users.

Before the senator's reply, if users wanted to delete all the conversations, they have to manually call Amazon support and require the deletion of the whole Alexa account. Amazon representatives called this situation a bug and fixed the issue then.

Amazon stated that another reason to use the records is for training its voice assistant, so it can evolve with time.

The answers that generated more questions

Amazon response can't be called somehow promising or consolatory. Amazon clients are still concerned about the status of their personal information. The thing is that Amazon's response leaves open the possibility that records of user voice communication with Alexa are not deleted from all of the multiple Amazon's servers, even after users delete such data from their devices.

What is even more disturbing, it is unclear how much of your information could be transferred to third parties, for what purpose, and to whom exactly? Amazon representatives are not bothered answering these questions, which is not appropriate in the case of the free network society.

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