Ok folks, yes, Amazon admits its employees sometimes listen to your Alexa recordings. This means that after you have said your wake word, and whatever you said goes to the servers, then it is fair game for Amazon Employees to hear. Yes, since Alexa is sometimes triggered when you don’t say the wake word (normally due to misunderstanding something you said) this means private conversations end up being heard by Alexa and potentially Amazon’s employees.
Employees are not supposed to know who you are. Why does Amazon do this? Most likely to improve Alexa’s ability to properly understand what you are saying. While voice to text has improved substantially, it still has a long way to go.
Since this kind of thing that is using what people do with tech to improve that tech, is not particularly uncommon, I think that Amazon’s big mistake is that it made this option an opt-out and provided no warning. A lot of services warn you this is taking place when you first sign up and provide you with the option to opt-out. It is important to understand that it is likely that any device you can speak into that sends data back to a server does the same thing. You will need to check your various devices to know for sure.
Can You Disable Amazon Employees From Hearing Your Alexa?
There are two ways to deal with the Alexa problem (aside of course from not having one).
- Turn off your mic. Alexa devices all have an option to turn off the mic. Obviously, this does limit the functionality and ease of use, but if you are very concerned with privacy, aside from not bringing a recording device into your home, this is the best way to protect yourself.
- Edit the settings to opt-out of allowing Employees to hear your recordings.
Opt-Out of Alexa Sharing Recordings with Amazon’s Employees
The process is pretty straight forward.
- Open your Alexa app.
- Open the menu. The appearance of the menu option will vary depending on how you are accessing the app. For example, on my Android phone, it appears as some vertical lines on the upper left of the screen.
- Go through the following screens
- Alexa Account
- Alexa Privacy
- Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa
- How Your Data Improves Alexa is where you need to make the changes. You will see there are two areas that have sliders on them that are currently blue (at least on my screen). On my phone, I had to scroll down to see both items.
- Help Develop New Features
- Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions
- Move both of these two sliders so they turn gray.
- All done.