How to Stop Amazon from Eavesdropping on Your Alexa Conversations

Stop Amazon Eavesdropping Alexa

How to Stop Alexa from Recording Your Voice and Sending it to Amazon for Human Review. Enable Privacy Features in the Alexa App or Through Your Alexa Account in a Web Browser

Amazon gives users the option of disabling the use of their voice recordings. Amazon updated their privacy policy to finally allow owners of Alexa enabled devices stop their voice recordings from being listened to by Amazon reviewers. Another privacy improvement lets Alexa users delete recordings all together. Two new features, Alexa voice recording deletion and the Amazon privacy hub were launched today. In case you didn’t know it, Amazon captures and reviews your voice recordings taken from Alexa enabled devices. The recordings are automatically sent to data centers for review by humans. This permission is turned on by default.

Using the new Amazon Privacy Hub, you can view, hear, and delete their own voice recordings at Alexa Privacy Settings or using the Alexa app at any time. http://www.amazon.com/alexaprivacyhub

Amazon has millions of cameras like Amazon Cloud Cam and microphones (Alexa Assistants and smart TVs) in millions of homes and businesses around the world. If you own any device that can talk to an Amazon Alexa Assistant, commonly referred to as Alexa, clips of your voice recordings are sometimes sent for review by Amazon employees and contractors to see if Alexa responded appropriately to your commands. The voice recordings are taken from Alexa enabled devices and listened to by humans to improve the quality of voice services. Human reviewers are tasked with listening to and transcribing the device owner’s interactions. They determine if Alexa provided the appropriate response. This is an especially helpful service to help Alexa recognize regional dialects or slang words. It helps train Alex’s speech recognition and natural language understanding algorithm.

Amazon launched the Alexa Echo in 2014. There are now over 150 different products with Alexa built in. Over 100 million devices have been sold.

According to Amazon, real world voice recordings of user interactions with Alexa are the best way to improve speech recognition. No voice recordings are stored unless Alexa hears the wake word or when the user presses the activation button on a device. However, Alexa cannot determine if the wake word was used unless it was listening in the first place so its continuously recording snippets of ambient sounds, listening for its wake word. That means it is always listening but not recording.

The default wake word is “Alexa” however, it can be set to anything in a user’s account settings. However, sometimes Alexa misunderstands a word as its wake word and begins recording. It is also possible that other sounds from music or television can trigger Alexa on accident and cause it to start listening and recording. Whether or not activation is mistaken, the reviewers are required to listen and transcribe it.

Amazon Reviews Audio Clips

According to a report from Bloomberg, reviewers have noted that they sometimes hear children’s conversations, background interactions, and even some with sensitive information like credit card numbers or bank details. Employees are not given identifiable account holder information and cannot tell who the voices belong to in the recordings. However, a screenshot in the Bloomberg post shows that recordings sent to reviewers are associated with an account number, the user’s first name, and the device serial number.

Stop Alexa From Recording and Sending Your Voice for Review by Amazon Employees

The new Amazon privacy hub gives Alexa enabled device owners the option to disable the use of their voice recordings for product development. Meaning they won’t be sent for review and transcription by Amazon employees and contractors. This privacy feature must be activated – meaning you must withdrawal your consent. Once disabled, Alexa will no longer sends clips of your voice or any other sounds recorded to its reviewers.

How to Stop Amazon Alexa from Sending Voice Recordings for Employee Review – Web Browser

If you want to stop Alexa from sending recordings of your voice, you will need to disable it in the Alexa app (see above) or shut it off using a web browser. Turn off, Manage how your data improves Alexa.

  1. Go to the Alexa Privacy settings page at https://www.amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings
  2. Select Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa
  3. Toggle Manage how your data improves Alexa and develop new features to off
Amazon Privacy Hub

How to Shut Off Alexa Voice Recordings for Amazon Employee Reviews – Alexa App

To opt out of human review, you can use your Alexa app to withdraw permission to record and send your voice recordings. Just like in the app, you must go to device settings and Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa under Alexa Settings.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone
  2. Tap the menu button on the top left of the screen
  3. Select Alexa Account
  4. Choose Alexa Privacy
  5. Select Manage how your data improves Alexa
  6. Toggle Help Develop New Features to off

Amazon is not the only one using human reviewers of device owner conversations. Apple has humans listen to and review Siri voice assistant recordings. Google also employs humans to reviews voice recordings taken from its voice assistant, Google Home. Both companies anonymize the recordings before sending them for review and use them for improving their respective services.

How to Tell Alexa to Delete Voice Recordings

Amazon also added the ability to have Alexa delete your voice recording history with a, Alexa voice command. If you want to delete anything that has already been recorded, you must manually delete the voice recordings. But you must turn on the setting that allows deletions first. So far, you cannot go back in history to delete your voice commands. You can only delete what was said today.

The option to delete past voice recordings is not turned on by default. You must enable it for the device. Note, that once this is enabled anyone who uses the device can delete the voice recordings.

  1. Go to your privacy settings page https://www.amazon.com/hz/mycd/myx/#/home/alexaPrivacy/home in a web browser
  2. Toggle the Enable deletion by voice button to on

Once the ability to delete is turned on, to have Alexa delete your voice recording say, Alexa [or your wake word], delete everything I said today Or you can say, Alexa, delete what I just said to remove the last command given.