How to Converse With Alexa Without Amazon Eavesdropping

July 4, 2020

Here’s a little trivia for you: Thousands of Amazon employees may be able to read and hear your conversations with Alexa. Recently, there have been reports of Amazon’s international team of employees who are improving Alexa’s ability to understand your commands and expand on the AI’s capability of interacting with its users. This means that they need to listen to some bits of recording from your Echo Speakers and other Alexa devices.

All this seems to give off some Big Brother vibes. Not only are real people eavesdropping on your talks with Alexa, but the Amazon employees are transcribing and annotating every bit of your conversation with the device. Alexa is then “educated” about the transcriptions in order for the AI to understand a greater pool of possible commands from the user.

If you’re unnerved about all this, then it is understandable, and you’re not the only one with that feeling. This is especially true if your commands are unique to your account, as Bloomberg would put it:  “A screenshot reviewed by Bloomberg shows that the recordings sent to the Alexa reviewers don’t provide a user’s full name and address but are associated with an account number, as well as the user’s first name and the device’s serial number.” While you’ll never be able to stop those people from overhearing your conversations with Alexa, there are still things you can do to minimize the invasion of your privacy.

Here’s one example: Open the Alexa mobile app on your smart device (preferably, your smartphone) Tap the Menu button in the upper-left of the screen Go to Alexa Account > Alexa Privacy > Manage how your data improves Alexa Turn off “Help develop new features” and “Use messages to improve transcriptions” for all profiles on your account While Amazon’s team might still be able to analyze your talk with Alexa, regardless, as Bloomberg noted, this can at least stop them from doing a voice study on your Alexa device.

However, the only actual solution to all this is to stop using your Amazon devices altogether, but making some adjustments to the privacy settings can at least keep those pesky third parties at bay, even for a little bit.

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