Amazon's Alexa recorded private conversation and sent it to random contact

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A USA couple was horrified to find out that their private conversation was recorded by Amazon's Echo voice-controlled device and sent to a work contact.

There have always been accusations that digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri are constantly listening in on and recording conversations, and recent events in Portland, Oregon are simply going to serve as extra fuel for conspiracy theorists. You might have heard about a story involving Alexa on an Amazon Echo sending a private conversation to a random person on a contact list today, spooking more than a few people.

She said the pair had unplugged all Echo devices that they relied on to control heating, lights and security at home. The couple who did not wish to reveal their full identity spoke to KIRO7 on a first name basis. The employee then sent the husband audio files of the chats that the Echo had sent, and the family promptly pulled the plug on all of them. In a written statement to KIRO, Amazon called the incident "an extremely rare occurrence", vowing to take measures never to let this happen again.

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This could mean that as a human listens to music, the voice assistant may hear an instruction to send a message, or add a product to a shopping list. "Alexa then asked out loud, "[contact name], right?" Even Amazon agrees that this was an unlikely chain of events, but says it is working on ways to make it even more unlikely to repeat.

"Our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry".

However, Alexa's integration into society has been rocked by the claims of a family from Portland in the U.S. saying a private conversation was recorded by the diminutive device. Amazon offered to fix Alexa so that it could be used only to enable and disable the appliances in the family's smart home, but that offer was declined. The company said it would disable the phrase "Alexa, laugh" and instead change the command to "Alexa, can you laugh?" to ensure less false positives.

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Alexa is a virtual assistant built into Amazon Echo smart speakers. Initially, the problem spawned thoughts of someone hacking into her system, with the employee suggesting she unplug her device before digging deeper.

An Amazon customer service representative confirmed that Danielle's audio had been sent to the number and apologised but didn't provide any information about why the device had been activated. Just a couple of months ago, users began reporting unusual sound emitting from their devices, describing them as "creepy laughs" coming from the smart speakers. After recording the conversation, it also sent it to one of their contacts. Users had reported in March this year, that Alexa was laughing creepily in the background and many were scared by the same. Then in between the couple's conversation, Alexa heard the request to "send message" by mistake.

These recordings are then stored on Amazon's servers.

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