It was the nightmare of every Amazon Echo owner. Alexa, the attached speaker, really listened to your concerns and passed behind her back the record of a private chit chat to someone on her echo contact list.
This actually happened this week, according to Seattle TV channel KIRO, which tells the story of the privacy of a Portland woman.
Amazon has been trying to counter concerns about "always listening" devices, saying that the echo only kick in action when it hears the wake-up word Alexa. Ditto for Google and the speaker connected to Google Home. The flaw for the Portland family, according to Amazon, is that Alexa heard the wake-up word, then a series of commands ̵
This was also the week when new privacy rules were introduced. In Europe, our email accounts were flooded with privacy updates from websites, apps and newsletters, and described how they use our information. Although the rules are only enforceable for European citizens, Americans can benefit because it is simply too difficult for most technology companies to have different standards.
So, if you would feel better a moment hands of the big tech companies – come over one Alexa.
If you are worried about this scenario, there is a simple solution. Do not set up the echo speaker to make calls like the Portland woman did.
This feature allows you to make Alexa calls through the loudspeaker or the app and call landline and mobile numbers in the contacts
Google has a similar call feature that also works by making calls in the Google Home – Smartphone – App to be set up.
Most people play music and ask about the weather with their smart speakers, but Bret Kinsella, the creator of the voicebot.ai blog, says calls are getting more and more popular.
He interviewed 1,000 people in January and found that 41% were calling and communicating with their speakers, 29% monthly and 10% daily
"This is pretty popular compared to many things," he says.
And for those with the Apple HomePod, the latest of the new connected speakers, yes, you can use the personal Siri wizard to speak commands, select music choices, and get answered questions. But you can not make outgoing calls, but transfer calls from an iPhone to the Apple speaker and use them as speakers.
During your call, do not say Alexa and wake up the echo speaker.
Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomePod: Which is Right for You?