Amazon’s Explanation for the Alexa Eavesdropping Scandal

Jason Del Ray, reporting for Recode:

Asked for more details, Amazon provided Recode with the following explanation:

Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

I mean, that all does sound pretty unlikely. But the fact that Alexa can interpret background conversation as a confirmation is a big problem.

Unlikely though it sounds, this does seem like the most likely scenario.

I do have a few Echo devices, but I never granted them access to my contacts and never enabled “Calling and Messaging”. If you did, and now wish to disable it, you need to call Amazon on the phone. Not joking.

Thursday, 24 May 2018