Alexa privacy concerns prompt senator to seek answers from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

CNET | 5/23/2019 | Corinne Reichert
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Does Alexa have access to a document shredder?

A US senator has asked Jeff Bezos to explain whether Amazon is indefinitely storing the text transcripts of voice recordings of people talking to Alexa on a smart home device.

Sen - Chris - Coons - Democrat - Delaware

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware and member of the judiciary committee, sent a letter Thursday to the Amazon CEO about the company's privacy and data security practices, saying the Echo could be putting users' privacy at risk.

Coons' letter follows a CNET report from earlier this month that Amazon retains text records of what users ask Alexa.

Reporting - Amazon - Customers - Control - Privacy

"Recent reporting suggests that Amazon's customers may not have as much control over their privacy as Amazon had indicated," Coons wrote.

"While I am encouraged that Amazon allows users to delete audio recordings linked to their accounts, I am very concerned by reports that suggest that text transcriptions of these audio records are preserved indefinitely on Amazon's servers, and users are not given the option to delete these text transcripts."

Inability - Text - Transcript - Recordings - Renders

The inability to delete the text transcript of the audio recordings "renders the option to delete the recording largely inconsequential," the senator said.

Coons has asked for Amazon to provide answers on how long it stores the transcripts, whether users can delete them, why Amazon collects or uses them, and whether Amazon takes any measures to anonymize customer identity.

Amazon - Alexa - Responses - Audio - Text

He also wants to know whether Amazon preserves Alexa's responses in either audio or text, and whether this is deletable, and he wants details on Amazon's Wake Word system, including how long the system records for, whether any audio is sent to the cloud if the wake word isn't detected, whether audio...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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