Amazon has confirmed that it stores voice recordings and transcripts recorded by its virtual assistant Alexa. The company has also revealed that it even shares some of this data with third-party developers.
Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman has stated the company stores all the voice recordings and transcripts of Alexa indefinitely and only removes them if they are manually deleted by users. The statement came as a reply to the letter sent by Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos back in May requesting information about the privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices.
“The inability to delete a transcript of an audio recording renders the option to delete the recording largely inconsequential and puts users’ privacy at risk,” said Coons in his letter. Amazon has revealed that in some cases, the transcripts will be held even if users remove the audio. “We may still retain other records of customers’ Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to the customer’s request,” Amazon said in a letter.
Furthermore, the company has revealed that third-party skill developers also have access to recordings of Alexa requests that are transactional like ordering food or hailing a taxi. It further records and keeps reminders and alarms set by the user. The company says that there is an “on-going effort to ensure those transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa’s other storage systems.” The brand adds that it uses the transcripts to ‘train’ Alexa to understand commands.
How to delete Alexa voice recordings?
The news is quite shocking in nature as it deeply affects the privacy of the user. The company has said that users can manually delete the voice recordings. In order to do so, you can follow these steps:
1. Open Amazon Alexa application on your smartphone
2. Go To Settings menu and select Alexa Privacy
3. Once you open it, you will find the Review Voice History option.
4. Click on this option and you will see the date range. One can select to delete the history of today, yesterday, This Week, This Month and All history.
5. Select the desired option and click Delete All Recordings
One can also enable deletion by voice feature. This feature allows you to delete recordings by saying “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”.
Previously, it was reported that Amazon employees are constantly monitoring Alexa voice recordings. Amazon employs “thousands of people” around the world who listen to voice recordings extracted through Echo devices. While some of these people are full-time employees at Amazon, the company hires independent people on contracts, all of whom sign a nondisclosure agreement to keep such details away from the public.