Thousands Of Amazon Staff Listen To Alexa Requests
Amazon has further muddied the waters of consumer privacy, following revelations it employs thousands of staff to listen and transcribe customer voice recordings made to its smart assistant Alexa.
According to Bloomberg, a global team of thousands listen to recordings of consumers speaking to their Echo smart speaker, often within the privacy of their homes or offices.
Recordings are reportedly transcribed and annotated, before being fed into software which seeks to refine Alexa’s conversational intelligence.
According to TIME, the team comprises full-time and contract employees, who have signed non-disclosure agreements preventing them from publicly speaking.
Reports suggest each reviewer peruses as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift, and “occasionally” stumbles upon recordings which would otherwise stay private (e.g. a woman singing in the shower).
Disclosed in a statement, Amazon asserts it takes “the security and privacy of customers’ personal information seriously” and only annotates “an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings.”
“We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system.”
In a list of FAQs Amazon does admit it uses consumer requests to train Alexa’s speech recognition and natural language understanding systems.