An Amazon Alexa-equipped smart speaker has mystified a couple in Portland, Oregon, after the voice-controlled assistant recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact.
The couple had fitted “every room” in their home with devices powered by the voice assistant and had joked that they were listening in to their conversations.
But the joke came to a swift end after the couple received a phone call from a friend in Seattle, who told them they were “being hacked” and that they should “unplug your Alexa devices right now”, Kiro7 reports.
Danille, who didn’t reveal her surname, said: “we unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house”.
Responding to the mysterious incident, Amazon told The Verge that the couple’s voice assistant seems to have overheard the conversation in a different room and misinterpreted some of the words as commands.
“As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely”, the retail giant said.
Still, it does little to ease fears that Amazon’s voice assistant may be snooping on a user’s private discussion.
Is Alexa listening all the time?
The short answer is no. According to Tech World, Alexa will only listen and record conversations after “wake word” has been spoken, and anything you then say can be deleted from the device’s history.
But those who do not want Alexa to listen to them at all can press and hold the microphone button on top of their Echo speaker until it turns red.
Regardless of whether the light is red or blue, though, Amazon has always insisted that its speakers do not snoop on user conversations, but when they do it’s often attributed to some form of technical glitch.
For instance, the retail giant issued a fix for its Echo smart speakers after it was found a software bug had caused the voice assistant to continuously listen to its surroundings last month, The Daily Telegraph says, even when the “Alexa” wake command had not been issued.
Addint to the concerns, Alexa-powered speakers also spooked a number of Echo owners in March, after users reported hearing spontaneous “creepy” laughter from their devices.
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