Amazon's Alexa user accesses stranger's chats

Amazon sent 1,000 audio recordings of an Alexa user to the wrong guy

An Alexa user in Germany ended up downloading 1,700 audio files of a stranger's conversation when he was trying to access his own Alexa data. From the downloaded recordings, a magazine was able to identify and contact a pair of individuals.

The spokesperson also referred to the occurrence as an "isolated single case". "We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes".

The magazine also reported the incident to Amazon - again - interested to see if the company would notify authorities within 72 hours as required by Germany's GDPR law.

C't magazine listened to numerous files and was able "to piece together a detailed picture of the customer concerned and his personal habits".

These files even included audio recordings of the person in the shower, according to the report.

It's the big worry that smart speaker owners have; is the virtual assistant on their device listening in and spying on them?

It turned out that the guy, who has been given the pseudonym Martin Schneider, had received all the data - 1700 files worth of it - from another customer.

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The error wasn't the Echo or Alexa's fault in any way, so don't freak out about your Echo Dot in the corner, but it's still a fairly big mess up on Amazon's part.

About 74.2 million Americans are expected to use smart speakers at least once a month next year, 15% more than did so this year, with Amazon's Alexa capturing 63.3% market share, down from 66.6% this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer that was emailed to Retail Dive.

Amazon created an annual Alexa Prize in 2016, giving out cash awards to scientists who can develop talking computer systems known as chatbots.

In that case, Amazon said the assistant was responding to background conversations that that the device interpreted as voice commands.

The unnamed individual contacted Amazon to ask for all the records the company held on him, a right European Union citizens have as part of the recently enacted GDPR privacy legislation.

Companies need to take human errors into account when it comes to privacy leaks and violations.

Amazon did not answer Gizmodo's questions about how a human error led to this privacy infringement, or whether the company had initially contacted the victim to inform them their sensitive information was shared with a stranger.

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