Amazon Alexa user given access to stranger’s conversations

A user of Amazon’s Alexa smart voice assistant was sent audio files from a stranger after requesting access to his own recordings.

According to a report in German technology magazine C’t, the user – who is based in Germany – made a request to Amazon under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to access his own data, but was sent those of another man and a woman in conversation instead.

The technology giant called it an “isolated incident”.

(Amazon/PA)
(Amazon/PA)

“This was an unfortunate case of human error and an isolated incident. We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.

The report claims Amazon did not initially respond to the first man when he told them he had been given access to the wrong recordings, but the files were deleted from the link provided by Amazon. However, they had already been downloaded to the man’s computer.

Among roughly 1,700 recordings, a man and woman can be heard in conversation, the report said.

The Alexa app, which is used as a companion to the voice assistant housed in Amazon Echo smart speakers, keeps a log of interactions between users and the assistant, which can be listened to or deleted from within the app.

The artificial intelligence powered assistant, which first launched in the UK in 2016 with the first generation Echo smart speakers, can be used to answer questions and queries as well as respond to commands around playing music and giving news and weather updates.

- Press Association

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