Privacy concerns regarding the use of manual human reviews of Alexa AI voice assistant recordings were raised recently by Amazon’s lead data regulator in Europe, Luxembourg’s National Commission for Data Protection.
“At this stage, we cannot comment further about this case as we are bound by the obligation of professional secrecy,” added a spokesman for TechCrunch.
Apparently, Amazon’s Alexa voice AI has been intrusively listening for a trigger word which activates a recording function and enables the streaming of audio data. The data is then processed and stored to the cloud.
The tricky thing is the device’s AI cannot make the difference between intentional interactions and accidental ones, therefore they are natively prone to eavesdropping
Accidental activation of the trigger word seems to happen more often, while, not to mention these devices can record audio in their vicinity, unintentional.
As a measure, Amazon recently added an option to the settings of the Alexa smartphone app, giving users the choice to reject their audio snippets being manually reviewed by for Amazon’s employees.
On this note, the Hamburg data protection agency advised EU privacy watchdogs to urge checks for other providers of language assistance systems, like Apple and Amazon.