Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Amazon: Alexa 'Error' Granted Man Access to Another User's Voice Recordings

Amazon's Alexa user accesses stranger's chats Amazon sent private Alexa audio recordings to a random person
Sherri Watson | 29 December, 2018, 01:49

After requesting his data from Amazon, as allowed by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the man mistakenly received 1,700 audio recordings from someone else entirely, accompanied with PDF transcriptions of all the requests the other person had ever made.

The company told the Daily Dot it was an "isolated incident" and attributed it to a "human error". But the violation of privacy had already transpired: After Amazon had sent the user the link, he downloaded the audio recordings of the stranger to his computer.

The spokesman went on to say, "We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes. As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities", the Amazon spokesman said.

He provided those recordings to the German magazine, which was able to get in touch with the person who owned the house full of Amazon Alexa devices. The issue was first detailed by German publication c't. "The audio files were recorded in a stranger's living room, bedroom, and shower".

A user requesting a copy of their personal data from Amazon received voice recordings of Alexa interactions from a different customer. Amazon deleted the files from the link the company had accidentally shared with him. It also said that some of the recordings were from when he was in the shower.

In May it was revealed that a conversation between a couple in Portland, Oregon was sent to a random person in their contacts list. Meanwhile, Amazon said it's just an isolated incident that was fixed.

As the Tech magazine "c't" reported, it came out this autumn on the subject of Alexa, but in a data breach at the German Amazon offshoot Amazon.de. An Amazon representative reportedly told them that one of their staff members had made a one-time error.

CT created a profile of the user and was able to identify the customer, his girlfriend, and some friends, using it. CT contacted the customer and he confirmed that his voice was on the recordings.

Amazon needs to store these recordings to improve its voice recognition systems, but people who frequently speak to their smart speaker should think twice before telling Alexa any secrets.