Amazon is launching a range of new virtual assistant devices, despite ongoing concerns about the privacy of consumers who use Alexa – its smart helper technology.

The tech giant announced a number of new Echo smart speakers, plus a pair of earphones, glasses, and a ring which will be the first wearables to support the voice-activated software.

Along with other tech firms with AI assistants Amazon has recently come under the spotlight concerning their privacy practices. This follows the discovery of industry-wide plans to see audio data from user interactions with software such as Alexa being listened to and analyzed by human staff.

Critics have accused the tech industry of a lack of transparency, by failing to clearly state that other people may hear the recordings as part of the programs, which were conducted to help improve speech recognition technology.

Amazon, Apple, and Google have employed human transcribers to listen to recorded snippets and transcribe them, in order to improve the accuracy of their software. However, it was felt that users were not made sufficiently aware that other people may be listening to what they say in the their own homes.

Responding to the complaints, Amazon said it would enable users to opt-out of the analysis of their audio by humans, while other vendors have “paused” their programs completely.

Amazon devices boss Dave Limp said, at the company’s media event last Wednesday that Amazon was committed to user privacy and that it was “foundational” to every device made by the firm.

Greater Control

Limp also announced a number of new Alexa features, designed to give users greater control over their data – including the ability to ask Alexa what the assistant heard and a new auto-delete tool which automatically erases a user’s saved audio recordings every three or 18 months.

A service “can’t be private unless you give [customers] this control”, Mr Limp argued.

He also revealed that Amazon had been improving the ‘wake word’ engine, which powers Alexa’s understanding of when it hears its own name and starts recording.

Mr added that it had become 50% more accurate in the last 12 months, reducing the number of false wakes and unintentional recording of private conversations.

If you liked this post, check out our Premium Privacy Insights for informative articles on wide-ranging global data privacy issues.

Contact the author
Peter Borner
Executive Chairman and Chief Trust Officer

As Co-founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Trust Officer of The Data Privacy Group, Peter Borner leverages over 30 years of expertise to drive revenue for organisations by prioritising trust. Peter shapes tailored strategies to help businesses reap the rewards of increased customer loyalty, improved reputation, and ultimately higher revenue. His approach provides clients with ongoing peace of mind, solidifying their foundation in the realm of digital trust.

Specialises in: Privacy & Data Governance

Peter Borner
Executive Chairman and Chief Trust Officer

As Co-founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Trust Officer of The Data Privacy Group, Peter Borner leverages over 30 years of expertise to drive revenue for organisations by prioritising trust. Peter shapes tailored strategies to help businesses reap the rewards of increased customer loyalty, improved reputation, and ultimately higher revenue. His approach provides clients with ongoing peace of mind, solidifying their foundation in the realm of digital trust.

Specialises in: Privacy & Data Governance

Contact Our Team Today
Your confidential, no obligation discussion awaits.