Alexa Sent Private Chat to Random People

PaulRubens - May 25, 2018 - 10:21 AM

Alexa Sent Private Chat to Random People

A series of improbable events may be the cause of the breach of privacy by the intelligent assistant.

(CCM) — Alexa listened in on a Portland, OR couple's private conversation, recorded it, and then sent the recording to a random person in their contact list, the BBC is reporting.



Danielle, who did not reveal her last name, said the couple only discovered what had happened when she received a phone call from a work colleague of her husband. "He proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house," she said in the report.

The colleague said that he had listened to a recording of the couple talking about hardwood floors, to confirm that his call was not a joke.

When contacted by the BBC, Amazon explained that the message had been sent because of an improbable series of misinterpretations. The company said that the Echo device in the couple's living room had heard a sound that it believed to be "Alexa", and then it thought it heard a "send message" request.

At this point the Echo device asked out loud: "To whom?", and subsequent background noise sounded to the device like a name on the couple's contact list. When the Echo then sought confirmation by saying the contact name out loud and asking "Right?", it then interpreted the background noise as "Right" and sent the recording.

But Danielle denied that Alexa had said anything out loud that would indicate that it was going to send a message. Amazon said that it is evaluating options to make this case even less likely, according to the report.


Image: © Peppinuzzo - Shutterstock.com
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