An Amazon Echo—the voice-controlled smart speaker—recorded a private conversation between a Portland, Oregon couple and sent the audio to one of their contacts, Seattle’s Kiro 7 reports.
“My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” said Danielle, who did not provide her last name to the station.
Danielle said she had every room in her house outfitted with Amazon devices that controlled her heat, lights and security system, but that her love affair with them ended when her Echo invaded her privacy.
She said she received a phone call from her one of her husband’s employees who told her to disconnect the device
“The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now,'” she said. “‘You’re being hacked.'”
“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.'”
She said she listened to the conversation and was shocked that someone received the message.
“I felt invaded,” Danielle said. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again because I can’t trust it.'”
The company confirmed that the device sent the audio without permission and investigating the incident.
“Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence, the company said in a statement to KIRO. “We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.