Do You Have an Alexa in Your Home?

Lots of homes these days are equipped with smart listening devices like the Google Echo and Amazon’s Alexa.

These devices are meant to be convenient. You can set them up so they can control your heating, lights, music and more… all through voice command. Or via your mobile phone if you’re out and about and want to do something like turn down the heat remotely.

Devices like Alexa and Echo can also answer basic questions such as, “What’s the weather forecast today?” and “How far is the moon from Earth?”

If you have an account set up, you can even order basic items from Amazon through your Alexa.

To do all that, your device needs to be listening to what you say… whether you’re talking to it or not.

And that means sometimes, from a privacy perspective, things can go terribly, terribly wrong.

Take for example, a Portland couple whose Alexa device recorded their conversations and sent the audio files to a random person in their contact list.

That actually happened. The couple was relaxing in the privacy of their own home, talking about redoing their floors. A short time later, a colleague phoned and told them to unplug their Alexa devices, explaining she’d just received audio files of the conversation they were having not long before.

Spooky stuff. But not surprising.

Smart technologies share your data. Now obviously they are not meant to send random conversations to people in your contact list. But the fact that this happened… well, it’s alarming.

Whether your smart devices are listening to your conversations or monitoring your power, you don’t really know who has access to that information. You compromise your privacy when you bring them into your home.

So, for the time being, maybe continue to control your light and heat manually and leave the privacy infiltrating devices to sometime else.

To see the full account of Alexa’s listen-and-send activity just click here.