The Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Nightmare Came True

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Due to human error, a German user of Amazon Alexa received access to more than one thousand voice recordings created by someone else.

The report claims Amazon did not initially respond to the first man when he told them he had been given access to the wrong recordings, but the files were deleted from the link provided by Amazon.

An Alexa user in Germany ended up downloading 1,700 audio files of a stranger's conversation when he was trying to access his own Alexa data.

The spokesman went on to say, "We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes".

The company also told Reuters that it had contacted "the relevant authorities" as a "precautionary measures".

C't magazine listened to numerous files and was able "to piece together a detailed picture of the customer concerned and his personal habits".

Amazon has already confirmed the incident and has determined it to be the only known case of this happening so far. Some of the files related to his own Amazon searches, but there were also hundreds of audio files and Alexa transcripts, even though he doesn't own any Echo devices.

It's the big worry that smart speaker owners have; is the virtual assistant on their device listening in and spying on them?

The recipient of the files saved and later shared them with the publication, which reviewed the recordings: "Suddenly, we found ourselves in the intimate sphere of strangers without their knowledge". And in a recent incident, the Alexa recordings of a Germany-based man ended up in the mailbox of a total stranger.

"Many of our AI dreams are inspired by science fiction", Rohit Prasad, Amazon's vice president and head scientist of Alexa Artificial Intelligence (AI), said during a talk last month in Las Vegas. The alarms, Spotify commands, and public transport inquiries included in the data revealed a lot about the victims' personal habits, their jobs, and their taste in music.

Notably, Amazon didn't reply and the download link sent to him by Amazon now stands dead.

Exactly what the human error was remains unclear. Back then Amazon called it "an extremely rare occurrence" and blamed it on a one-of a kind string of coincidences where the device interpreted the user's conversation as a series of directions to blurt out what they were saying to a random.

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