Alexa Echo sits quietly in our living room: We have muted this few times in the last week.

Alexa Listening To Our Conversation For Sure: What’s Next?

As a tech enthusiast looking for a smart speaker, last year we bought Amazon Alexa into our living room. My wife and her family were skeptical about the device always recording and storing our voices and data in the Amazon cloud. Being Europeans, they have different sensitivities around data collection. I allayed their fear by asking Alexa

“Alexa, do you listen to us”

Alexa “I only send audio back to Amazon when I hear the wake word. For additional, check Amazon’s Privacy page ….”

I asked this question several times to be sure that we are cool with our Alexa.

This response from Alexa (aka Amazon) is a blatant lie.

Maybe because Amazon wants to capture random conversation of their Prime customers and suggest items to purchase.

Maybe because Amazon is becoming like Uber (under Travis Kalanick) — growth at all costs.

Maybe because we are becoming too comfortable with outsized stock returns on our investments and neglecting what we are giving up. Maybe all of them.

Whats the Best Way Out (for Amazon)?

The easy way out is to MUTE Alexa — but then why have one in the middle of your living space?

I chatted with Amazon Help Desk (Customer Support) — they took this seriously and said we are storing this only on our cloud and this is protected. They said nothing about anonymizing the data, or deleting the data after a period of time or anything else for that matter.

Amazon has always been truly customer centric. Even during the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos focused on setting the bar high for customer focus by bringing the popular empty chair to meetings with his senior executives — the chair represented the invisible customer in the room. I think that chair strongly feels its overdue for conversation with Alexa to be something like this (the key is transparency)

“Alexa, do you listen to us”

Alexa — “I send the audio back to Amazon when I hear the wake word. Sometimes, I end up accidentally storing your voice thinking you have spoken the wake word. I will let you know if that happens so that you can decide what to do with the recording.”

This transparency is important as GDPR is now in action and our e-mail inboxes are full with privacy policy updates form websites, apps and newsletters, outlining exactly how they are now using our information. At this point, Amazon cannot afford to have different standards for us.

Please share your thoughts. What did you do with your smart speaker when you found out that she is secretly recording your personal life?

Polymath: dad, husband, co-founder, strategist, Computer Vision enthusiast, visual thinker and dog lover.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store