Amazon Alexa device

Amazon refutes Alexa eavesdropping on ‘myths’

In a year when Amazon blogged about its Alexa voice-enabled device 28 different times as part of its efforts to grow its overall ecosystem of connected devices, the eCommerce giant has finally adopted the 800-pound in-room eavesdropper.

This, like the retail giant 12th Alexa update this quarter aims to disseminate consumer privacy concerns — or “myths” as it calls them — that have plagued its growing portfolio of listening and answering machines since their launch in 2014.

But the real question is, “Why now?”

“We’re dispelling common misconceptions about how Alexa works, from protecting your privacy to managing your experience,” the unsigned blog post begins, under the banner headline “Breaking Amazon’s 4 Biggest Myths about Alexa.”

In particular, the Seattle-based tech titan takes on issues ranging from where and what is heard and recorded, to users’ ability to monitor and delete what they’ve said, as well as general security questions about the risk of being hacked for strangers who can eavesdrop on your home.

Demystifying Alexa

Comparing the rise of Alexa and Echo devices to the tentative adoption consumers initially gave in the early days of television, computers, and the Internet, Amazon said it wanted to demystify how Alexa works.

“Emerging technologies are often met with skepticism, especially if it’s not immediately clear how they work or what benefit they have,” the blog said. “The same goes for voice assistants like Alexa: aspects of how they work are still sometimes misunderstood.”

At the top of the list of misunderstandings, Amazon notes, is the consumer’s concern about how their tiny digital device can always listen to be called and still be able to ignore everything else being said, a distinguishing skill it attributes. to five specific words.”

Until your Echo device detects your chosen wake word – current options are ‘Alexa’, ‘Amazon’, ‘Echo’, ‘Ziggy’ and ‘Computer’ – Alexa does not record or store what you or any other other person in the room said,” the blog explains, noting that a blue light is also activated when the device is listening, and it can also be turned on and off manually.

In addition to directing customers to visit the device’s privacy settings to manage or delete voice history and recordings, on-site or automatically on a recurring basis, Amazon also reassured customers that shared information is safe and encrypted.

“Data encryption, rigorous security reviews, and regular automatic updates to your Alexa-enabled devices work together to ensure they operate as securely as possible,” the company said without providing further details on reported breaches or hacks.

“In addition to designing all of our devices and services with security in mind, we devote significant resources and human resources to testing and maintaining the security of our devices,” added Amazon.

But will it work?

It’s still unclear why Amazon felt the need to broach this topic now in the wake of two dozen other Alexa-tagged blog posts, ranging from summer playlists to how older users and loved ones feel more secure knowing that someone — or thing — is a cry for help.

Whether the Myth Busting statement comforts anyone is also up for debate, especially among the tech-savvy privacy advocates who have critically written about the voice-activated devices for years.

That said, PYMNTS Feb 2022 Consumer Authentication Experiences research conducted in conjunction with Pindrop noted that the growth and advancement of voice technology is not only expected to accelerate in 2022, but that “52% of consumers accessing accounts digitally were satisfied, while only 43% using their phones are satisfied with digital authentication and want options such as speech available.”

“These data both highlight the significant opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and suggest that organizations looking to do so would be wise to consider voice-based solutions that can be consistent across digital and telephone communications,” the report said.


About: More than half of utility and consumer finance companies have the ability to digitally process all monthly bill payments. The kicker? Only 12% of them do. The Digital Payments Edge, a collaboration of PYMNTS and ACI Worldwide, surveyed 207 billing and collection professionals at these companies to find out why going fully digital remains elusive.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *