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Woman Shocked Finding Voice Recordings Amazon Made of Her With Alexa

A woman on TikTok was shocked to discover that Amazon had been collecting her voice data through her Amazon Echo. Credit: Norio Nakayama, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A TikTok user was shocked to discover that her Amazon devices had stored thousands of files recording her voice. The video was posted towards the end of August and has amassed over 2 million views on the platform.

The user explains that she has three Amazon speakers in her house, two Dots and one Echo. She said that she had requested all of the data stored in her devices from Amazon, and was given a compressed file in which there were folders containing short audio files recorded by her speakers. She said there were approximately 3,534 audio files containing her voice.

The woman said that she also found a folder with the contacts from her phone, which she claimed to have no memory of syncing with her Amazon account.

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“The very last thing that I didn’t know that they had, I could have assumed that they have but I don’t love that they have, is my location,” she said, explaining that the company had logged her location details as well.

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Amazon says they are transparent about the Alexa app’s data collection

Amazon has responded to the viral video, explaining that they have been upfront about what data Alexa collects and have offered their customers the ability to control what is collected:

“We give customers transparency and control over their Alexa experience. Customers can easily review and delete their voice recordings, or choose not to have them saved at all, at any time.”

“Customers can import their mobile phone contacts to the Alexa app so they can use features like hands-free calling and messaging; this optional feature, which customers need to set up, can be disabled at any time.”

“Finally, you can grant permissions for the Alexa app to use certain data, such as your mobile device’s geolocation, to provide relevant results (e.g.’ weather, traffic, restaurant recommendations), and you can manage these permissions in the app.”

Amazon gives each of its customers the ability to gain access to their user data by going to the Request My Data page and choosing which information they want Amazon to send them.

Although Amazon claims they are transparent about their data collection practices, this is not the first time the company has been under fire for what users see as an invasion of privacy, specifically with voice recording.

In 2018, an Oregan woman discovered that her Amazon device was recording the conversations in her house and sending them by email to one of her contacts in Seattle.

“He had received audio files– recordings — from what was going on in our house,” she said to Seattle television station KIRO 7. “I felt invaded– like total privacy invasion.”

The woman said that she had installed Amazon speakers in each room of her house. After receiving the news from her friend that her device was sending him data, she immediately called Amazon and was told by an engineer that this was indeed taking place with her devices but that it was “extremely rare.”

Amazon sent KIRO 7 a statement saying that “Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”

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