The Amazon Alexa Eavesdropping Nightmare Came True

Amazon sent over one thousand Alexa audio recordings to the wrong customer

Amazon sent over one thousand Alexa audio recordings to the wrong

Although he soon found that the download link he'd been sent was no longer working, he'd still saved the files on his computer.

A man in Germany received a scary surprise when Amazon accidentally sent him Alexa recordings that weren't his.

Amazon on Thursday confirmed what it described as "an unfortunate case that resulted from a human error", adding that it was an "isolated incident". In a statement, the company said it "resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes. As a precautionary measure, we contacted the relevant authorities".


After this meeting, C't magazine searched for the person captured in the audio files. It turns out, that for one Amazon Alexa user in Germany - and let's be honest, likely many more - those concerns are completely justified.

The customer contacted Amazon about the incident but nothing came out of it; he chose to contact CT and provided CT with a sample of the files. After c't reached out to Amazon, it was only a matter of days before the company engaged with all parties involved. They worked out which devices he owns, which music he likes, and who his girlfriend is, and even listened to him in the shower.

"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.


According to German trade publication c't, an Alexa user in the country was able to access recordings picked up by an Echo device that wasn't his.

So you probably already know about Alexa, Amazon's not-at-all-creepy robot voice assistant lady who's already been used to nefarious ends by wily parrots.

The artificial intelligence powered assistant, which first launched in the United Kingdom in 2016 with the first generation Echo smart speakers, can be used to answer questions and queries as well as respond to commands around playing music and giving news and weather updates. They may choose to put more attention on promoting their voice commerce apps to customers to drive usage.


It's not an Alexa bug, but "a human error" made by the company, Reuters explains. Amazon blamed the incident on "human error", saying that it was able to optimize its processes following the incident.

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