Amazon sent over 1,000 private Alexa recordings to random person

Amazon employee error shares thousands of Alexa recordings with a random user

On Thursday, C't magazine reported that a man, who requested their personal information from Amazon, was surprised to find 1,700 audio files of a stranger talking to Alexa. Amazon sent him a download link to tracked searches on the website - and 1,700 audio recordings by Alexa that were generated by another person.

And Thanks to Amazon's Echo range of smart speakers and other third-party devices, it's presence in our homes is growing by the minute. "We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes", an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge in a statement.

Amazon also confirmed that it had apologised to the two customers and had been in touch with regulatory authorities including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation administrators.

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 deleted the files from the link the company had accidentally shared with him. With Amazon not responding to his inquiries, the individual in Germany contacted journalists, who were able to quickly identify and track down the individual who's data had been leaked. The reason given is one of "human error".

The mistake also drew attention to the uncanny readiness with which American consumers have accepted microphone-linked voice assistants into their homes and how the devices actually work. A North Carolina man said a year ago that his Echo recorded a discussion and then sent it to his insurance agent, NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported. It also said that some of the recordings were from when he was in the shower.

The Alexa user was contacted by Amazon about the breach only after the conversation between Amazon and c't took place, three days after he was first interviewed by the magazine. "Public data from Facebook and Twitter rounded out the picture", the publication wrote. But, it still looks like a market that Amazon is dominating, with Google only accounting for 31% market share compared to Amazon's more than 66%, according to eMarketer. He was told that an Amazon employee had sent his data to the wrong GDPR requester, since he and the first man involved had both asked for their data.

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