Amazon adds option to delete Alexa voice recordings

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Amazon is adding an option to Alexa-enabled devices that will allow users to delete all voice recordings, as the company looks to allay privacy concerns around smart speakers.

The online retail giant is planning to make it easier for owners to remove recordings, simply by saying “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”.

Amazon Echo, the company’s own line of smart speakers, only store and send audio to the cloud once the “Alexa” wake word has been detected.

Users could already see a log of their recordings and delete them from Amazon’s website, as well as a button which stopped devices hearing everything, including the Alexa wake word.

This latest addition comes after Amazon admitted workers “annotate an extremely small number of interactions” to improve speech recognition, in response to a report claiming itself, Apple and Google listen to customer voice recordings.

At the time, Amazon said it has “strict technical and operational safeguards” and a “zero-tolerance policy” towards the abuse of its systems.

“All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment to protect it,” it said.

The firm announced that the new feature would be rolled out “soon”, accompanied by an Alexa Privacy Hub that will provide everything people need to know about how Echo devices are designed and the controls they have available to them.

Its updated Echo Show 5, which was unveiled on Wednesday, also ramps up Amazon’s privacy effort, with a built-in shutter to cover the camera.

“The compact form factor is perfect for a bedside table or desk, plus it has a camera shutter for added peace of mind, and new Alexa privacy features that are coming soon to the UK for even more control,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president of Amazon Devices in the EU.

Chris Price
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