Many people are wary of bringing in smart speakers into their homes due to privacy concerns. If you were worried that businesses are listening to you through your home technology, you may have a reason to be concerned. Amazon reportedly has thousands of employees listening to Alexa conversations. This means that what you say when you're in your home could be picked up by your speakers then heard by an Amazon worker elsewhere. Creepy, right?
Bloomberg reports that Amazon has thousands of employees whose job is to listen to conversations heard by the Alexa Echo in the homes and offices of Alexa users. Their employees work in locations all around the world, including the U.S., Costa Rica, Romania and India.
During their shifts, which last up to nine hours, Amazon employees go through up to 1000 audio clips to listen to conversations heard through the Alexa speaker.
According to CNN, although many of the conversations they listen to are "mundane", sometimes they also hear clips that involve "possibly criminal" actions, and it can get as intense as hearing a potential sexual assault take place.
Amazon itself has confirmed that they do hire employees to listen to conversations heard through Alexa. The company responded to the incident and explained why with an emailed statement to Bloomberg.
“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously,” said an Amazon spokesman said the statement.
“We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience. For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone.
Millions and millions of people around the world use smart speakers in their homes, such as Amazon's Echo. The company first released its smart speakers in 2014, and since then, the use of this technology has grown immensely globally.
Amazon's competitors Apple and Google have also released their own smart home speakers, the HomePod and Google Home respectively.