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Alexa Is Always Listening: Amazon Says Echo Device Sent Private Conversation To Family's Contact

May 25, 2018 - 11:59 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Amazon says it is looking into ways of preventing private conversations picked up by Echo devices to be accidentally sent to someone else.

It happened to a woman in Portland, Oregon whose conversation about hardwood flooring was sent to one of her husband's employees.

Amazon says the Echo interpreted a word in the background as "Alexa" which woke up the device and then it interpreted another part of the conversation as a "send message" request.

The company says it is "evaluating options to make this case even less likely.''

So, do we need to worry about these smart speakers hearing and possibly relaying our most intimate private conversations?

Bloomberg's Spencer Soper says this happening reinforces that yes we do.

"Amazon's explanation is that this is extremely rare, but it shows that you're taking a chance with a live mic in your house," Soper said. "It's listening in the sense that it has to listen for that wake word. If it wasn't listening how would it hear the wake word 'Alexa?' So these devices are always listening."

If you have an Echo device and are worried about accidental recordings you can stop your device from listening around the clock by turning off its microphone. Press the power button on top of the device and remember to press it again when you want to say a command.

You can also review your recordings on the Alexa app and delete anything you don't want to keep.