Do you trust Amazon Alexa?

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Amazon employees might just be listening to your Alexa commands. But do Echo owners care? Amazon employs thousands of people around the world to improve performance of the Alexa digital assistant, and recordings are transcribed and fed back into the system to prevent gaps in human speech comprehension.

A recent survey by digital privacy and security company ExpressVPN found a link between privacy concerns and purchase intent. When asked which brands people trusted most with their personal data, these were the results:

31% said Amazon Alexa
29% said Google Assistant
11% said Apple HomeKit
8% said Facebook Portal

When asked which smart home brands’ products they were most likely to purchase (or had purchased over the last holiday season), once again, Amazon came top:

66% Amazon
29% Google
32% Apple
11% Facebook Portal

With the recent Bloomberg revelations, however, ExpressVPN is surmising that consumers’ perceptions may very well change, challenging Amazon’s position as the most trusted brand. The survey also found that 82% said Amazon Echo’s invasion of personal privacy could affect their purchase decision, 52% cited concerns about smart speaker and voice assistant device manufacturers using the device to listen in on conversations, 35% would return it to the store if their device was being used to monitor their conversations, and 9% would throw the device in the garbage.

Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN, said “This news about Amazon employees listening to private conversations recorded by Alexa speaks to the very fears that many of us have about smart home devices. These revelations will no doubt make consumers think twice before buying, as our research has shown that privacy concerns and brand trust are crucial in the smart home space. It’s more than reasonable for consumers to expect that companies like Amazon do not invade the sanctity of private conversations in their own homes, and we should demand that companies respect that.”

Do our forum members have concerns about privacy with Alexa or other voice-activated platforms? Let us know your thoughts…

Published by

Martin Dew

editor

11 Comments

  1. It’s more than reasonable for consumers to expect that companies like Amazon do not invade the sanctity of private conversations in their own homes, and we should demand that companies respect that.”

    This may have been sound reasoning perhaps 20 years ago but today the opposite is clearly true. Anyone who buys these types of devices [from any provider] and believes they are not being used to mine data in the background is naive at best. Now whether you're OK with these practices or not is a separate issue. Some may find the features and convenience offered by the devices compelling enough to offset the privacy concerns; Others may not. Either way, the notion that companies who make their fortunes compiling and selling [supposedly aggregate] personal data would forego the practice with their most intrusive class of products to date is patently ridiculous in my view. These products represent the modern incarnation of the Trojan Horse.

  2. Yeah, I don't believe I would ever have one of these in my home. I don't even like to turn on the location feature on my cell phone or tablet, and it makes me nervous when app updates say they need access to the microphone and camera, for whatever reasons.

  3. The answer is absolutely no! Not only do I not trust Amazon Alexa but I do not trust Google Assistant or Apple Siri! It is bad enough we had a spy device in our mist before these digital voice enabled devices. So many are people are addicted to the device we call smart phones! So with those they can track us almost anywhere we go! They can technically listen in and access the camera and look at the websites we go on. Now on top of that they can record us and listen in on us and sell the data on keywords we search and what we buy! They know what music people listen to and what movies you watch! It is amazing and sickening how much data is stored on every single person using technology today. I can unlike many out there walk away from my smart phone at any time and honestly can live without it! I might have a few compatible devices but I do not own any of the actual devices like Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri! And to be honest I have no interest in owning any of them!

  4. The answer is absolutely no! Not only do I not trust Amazon Alexa but I do not trust Google Assistant or Apple Siri! It is bad enough we had a spy device in our mist before these digital voice enabled devices. So many are people are addicted to the device we call smart phones! So with those they can track us almost anywhere we go! They can technically listen in and access the camera and look at the websites we go on. Now on top of that they can record us and listen in on us and sell the data on keywords we search and what we buy! They know what music people listen to and what movies you watch! It is amazing and sickening how much data is stored on every single person using technology today. I can unlike many out there walk away from my smart phone at any time and honestly can live without it! I might have a few compatible devices but I do not own any of the actual devices like Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri! And to be honest I have no interest in owning any of them! I believe we are close to the point where we will miss the days when the government had to actually get warrants legally to place microphones in hour homes and businesses. Heck now companies can do the same thing and no crime is involved!

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  5. I even turn off the internet download feature of my BluRay player. So, the answer is no. I can't live in the modern world and not be tracked at all, but I definitely minimize it as much as I can.

  6. TonyD

    Eh. I’m not doing anything I need to worry about. Let them hear it all.

    That's the way we feel, too. The Amazon Echo devices are a convenience we enjoy, and I'm not too worried about what Amazon hears in our household.

  7. I would never have one of these in my home. We have some close friends that have some in their home, and I feel like there's no privacy in their house. It's bad enough when I use the word "boat" in an email and then everywhere I go on the Internet I see boats for sale. But private conversations at home…sheesh.

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