Amazon listens in to what users say to their Alexa voice assistants, it has emerged.
Teams around the world use recordings from Amazon Echo smart speakers to improve how Alexa responds to requests, Bloomberg reported.
The website claimed that Amazon staff have occasionally heard “distressing” recordings – with some workers even sharing funny audio clips in internal chat rooms.
In a statement, the online retail giant confirmed that recordings were used to enhance Alexa’s ability to understand human language and speech patterns.
An Amazon spokeswoman added: “We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order to improve the customer experience,” said a spokeswoman.
“We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero-tolerance policy for the abuse of our system.
“Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.
“All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment to protect it.”
Its website does state that Amazon may “use requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems”.
It adds the company “associate your requests with your Amazon account to allow you to review your voice recordings, access other Amazon services… and to provide you with a more personalised experience”.
Amazon Echo users can listen to their own recordings through the Alexa companion app – and delete them if they wish.
The popularity of smart speakers has grown exponentially since they were first introduced to the UK in 2016.
According to research from last year, one in 10 people has one or more smart speakers in their home, with Amazon’s range of Echo smart devices the market leader.
Source: SKY NEWS