Amazon has admitted that the stored data it receives through voice interactions with the company's Alexa and Echo devices are not always deleted – even after a user deletes the audio files from their account. The disclosures explicitly set forth by Amazon in a letter to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), released today and June 28, cast an even deeper light on the company's privacy practices with respect to its digital voice assistant.
The answers are in response to a Coons request from last month when Coons asked how long the company was capturing voice recordings and transcripts of echo interactions. In this week's letter, Amazon confirmed some of the allegations. "We keep the voice recordings and transcripts of the customers until the customer deletes them," says the letter.
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Brian Huseman, Amazon's Vice President of Public Policy, said in his response that the company is constantly trying to ensure that these transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa's other storage systems. The user manually deletes the audio version. Some text versions are still stored in separate storage systems for an unknown period of time. In certain instances where Amazon believes that Alexa's feature set is affected by data deletion, the company decides to retain a specific version of the data.
Amazon claims that the audio files are not saved, but the transaction information may be stored if someone calls Alexa, such as a Uber, or places an order for food. "We do not store Alexa's audio data, but we may keep other records of Alexa's interactions with clients, including records of actions taken by Alexa in response to the customer request," wrote Huseman.
In the letter It should also be noted that the company and even Alexa Developers may keep track of any transaction or routinely scheduled activity that a user performs with an echoing device, which, according to Amazon, will ensure that the task is performed for the user easy to repeat and comfortable.
"And for other types of Alexa requests – such as setting a recurring alarm, prompting Alexa to remind you of your anniversary, and holding a meeting when you're on your calendar send a message to a friend, customers do not want or expect that by deleting the Sprachaufz If the underlying data is deleted, or if Alexa can not perform the requested task, "Huseman said.
In recent months, much attention has been paid to Alexa's inner life, according to a report by Bloomberg in April, which outlined how thousands of workers, many of whom are temporary workers and some are not even directly involved Alexa are busy Amazon has access to voice and text recordings of Alexa interactions that theoretically assemble information about a user's personal life. Amazon claims that these data are reviewed and commented by people to improve Alexa over time. Machine learning methods are used to train the underlying artificial intelligence software.
The lack of clarity on how and for what purpose Amazon collects and stores this data and why it is confusing to completely remove it from the company's servers has led to a reconsideration. Amazon claims that these are industry-standard practices Companies that develop AI-dependent tools and services.
The stakes are getting higher as Alexa now processes sensitive information about the health of patients. Amazon has also come under fire from privacy advocacy groups that claim it violates the Child Online Privacy Protection Law (COPPA) by providing data on children under 13 using its Amazon Echo Dot Kids devices Years collects and stores.
"The Amazon response leaves open the possibility that transcripts of user-language interactions with Alexa will not be deleted by all Amazon servers, even after a user deletes a recording of their voice," Coon said. "Americans deserve to understand how their personal information is used by technology companies, and I will continue to work with consumers and businesses to find ways to best protect their personal information."