Next Investors logo grey

Is Alexa big brother?


Published 12-APR-2019 15:48 P.M.


2 minute read

Hey! Looks like you have stumbled on the section of our website where we have archived articles from our old business model.

In 2019 the original founding team returned to run Next Investors, we changed our business model to only write about stocks we carefully research and are invested in for the long term.

The below articles were written under our previous business model. We have kept these articles online here for your reference.

Our new mission is to build a high performing ASX micro cap investment portfolio and share our research, analysis and investment strategy with our readers.

Click Here to View Latest Articles

We’re used to Alexa listening when we ask questions, but it turns out Amazon is listening too.

Earlier today it was revealed that Amazon has assembled a global crack team to listen to a ‘random’ selection of user recordings. These workers then transcribe the audio, listening to as many as 1,000 audio clips in nine hour shifts.

Amazon has expanded its audio transcription army into several countries including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania.

According to the company, Alexa only records audio after the ‘wake’ command is given. Any audio after this command is retained by the device and relayed back into Amazon’s servers to improve its grasp of human speech.

“By default, Echo devices are designed to detect only your chosen wake word,” a spokesperson said.

Users may opt out of Amazon using their recordings in the privacy sections of the Alexa app.

Amazon’s privacy statement includes the following:

“Customer trust is of the utmost important. We build Echo devices with privacy in mind from the beginning, striving to put the control in our customers’ hands. We recognise one single solution won’t be sufficient for every customer, and have built multiple layers of privacy protections into Echo devices.”

If it built Echo devices with privacy in mind from the beginning, why are users opted in to device recording automatically?

In addition, this isn’t the first time Amazon has come under fire when it comes to privacy. Just last year, an Amazon Echo user reported that the device had recorded a conversation without permission, before sending it to an Amazon employee in Seattle.

It’s stories like these that should give you pause when weighing up a smart home device purchase.

Fergus Hanson, who is the head of cyber policy at the Australian Security Policy Institute, believes smart home devices add an ‘extra layer’ of vulnerability to the household.

“Home assistants are basically adding an extra vulnerability to every home in Australia, they’re constantly listening.

“There have been examples where they’ve demonstrated that you can hack into an Amazon Echo. These have been reported to Amazon and fixed, but every piece of equipment has vulnerabilities and can be exploited,” he said.

Is a cool tech gimmick really worth your privacy (or what little is left of it)?

I’m not so sure.

General Information Only

S3 Consortium Pty Ltd (S3, ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’) (CAR No. 433913) is a corporate authorised representative of LeMessurier Securities Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 296877). The information contained in this article is general information and is for informational purposes only. Any advice is general advice only. Any advice contained in this article does not constitute personal advice and S3 has not taken into consideration your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please seek your own independent professional advice before making any financial investment decision. Those persons acting upon information contained in this article do so entirely at their own risk.

Conflicts of Interest Notice

S3 and its associated entities may hold investments in companies featured in its articles, including through being paid in the securities of the companies we provide commentary on. We disclose the securities held in relation to a particular company that we provide commentary on. Refer to our Disclosure Policy for information on our self-imposed trading blackouts, hold conditions and de-risking (sell conditions) which seek to mitigate against any potential conflicts of interest.

Publication Notice and Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is current as at the publication date. At the time of publishing, the information contained in this article is based on sources which are available in the public domain that we consider to be reliable, and our own analysis of those sources. The views of the author may not reflect the views of the AFSL holder. Any decision by you to purchase securities in the companies featured in this article should be done so after you have sought your own independent professional advice regarding this information and made your own inquiries as to the validity of any information in this article.

Any forward-looking statements contained in this article are not guarantees or predictions of future performance, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond our control, and which may cause actual results or performance of companies featured to differ materially from those expressed in the statements contained in this article. S3 cannot and does not give any assurance that the results or performance expressed or implied by any forward-looking statements contained in this article will actually occur and readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

This article may include references to our past investing performance. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of our future investing performance.