What Happens when Amazon’s Alexa Records Rape?

We’ve all been there. Asking Alexa embarrassing questions we wouldn’t dream of asking a real human being. If like me, you’re a little mortified at the idea of someone ‘playing-back’ all of your blonde moments to an entire room, might be worth Googling them instead in future!

Recent reports say that Amazon staff regularly listen to customers Alexa recordings. They claim it helps them gather data on what things are most searched for and also helps them improve their voice recognition technology. 

Probably best not to show this article to any teenage boys living in your house, they’re probably going to be a little red-faced.

If you’re a little embarrassed about what Amazon may have discovered in your search history, you may also feel like your privacy has been violated. But technically you gave them permission to do this when you purchased their device.

Amazon maintains that they use these recordings to improve their voice recognition systems. They claim that customer privacy is of the utmost importance to them. They also say they only annotate a small sample of recordings if they think it can help them with the development of the technology.

So, they only make notes on some of the recordings they have… do you feel comforted yet?

They do try to redeem themselves by saying that they have very strict safeguards in place and that employees do not have access to information that would identify the user or the account.

Amazon are tech Gods (let's be honest) and have the power to put systems in place where systems automatically record searches on a data sheet, instead of requiring employees to listen in on private thoughts and questions. 

If they really wanted to improve voice recognition services why not hold focus groups and have an "opt-in" service where customers consent to recordings being listened to?

As a result of these recordings being ‘monitored’ sometimes employees hear things they shouldn’t, most of the time these are bank details or other personal data. 

Two employees reportedly told a large publication in the US that they heard a sexual assault on one of these recordings. The company allegedly told them not to report anything as it wasn’t “their place to get involved”.

Whose place is it then? Who is going to get involved here?

How do you feel now?

Honestly, I was uncomfortable with the idea of all of the embarrassing things we search for or ask our devices being listened to. I am unsettled that some Amazon employees may be walking around with my bank details, but I am completely disgusted at the thought of someone stumbling across the recording of a sexual assault and doing nothing about it.

That poor victim could have evidence against a predator recorded on one of Amazon’s servers and they are potentially keeping it to themselves! They have already listened in on our private information, the damage has already been done, so why can’t they hand this critical information over to the police?

Why couldn't they attempt to redeem themselves?

Is it because the owner of the device could be their customer? Is one customer’s money more important than giving up a potential rapist?

I want to hear your thoughts on this, leave your comments in the box below or inbox us with your feelings!