Amazon: Alexa 'Error' Granted Man Access to Another User's Voice Recordings

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A man in Germany received a scary surprise when Amazon accidentally sent him Alexa recordings that weren't his.

The files provided much of the same kind of recorded information that would likely be collected by a bug planted in someone's house.

The customer is said to have asked the voice assistant for the recording of his activities and by mistake Alexa gave him access to 1700 audio files of another user according to a report in German trade publication c't, part of German tech publisher Heise.


"Suddenly, we found ourselves in the intimate sphere of strangers without their knowledge", a representative for c*t said. With Amazon not responding to his inquiries, the individual in Germany contacted journalists, who were able to quickly identify and track down the individual who's data had been leaked.

Amazon also confirmed that it had apologised to the two customers and had been in touch with regulatory authorities including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation administrators.

"This was an unfortunate case of human error and an isolated incident". The files were deleted from the link by Amazon but the user had already downloaded them.


About 74.2 million Americans are expected to use smart speakers at least once a month next year, 15% more than did so this year, with Amazon's Alexa capturing 63.3% market share, down from 66.6% this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer that was emailed to Retail Dive. Users have the option to delete these audio recordings from the cloud in their account settings. Confusingly, the man who requested the data does not own any Alexa-enabled devices himself. Upon listening to the files, he discovered that they were recordings of complete strangers - a male and female voice - making various requests, searches, and other comments.

In 2017, Amazon's stock rose 55.96%, thus, it again outperformed the S&P 500, which registered a 19.42% return. The recordings also contained copies of Spotify commans, weather queries and first and last names.

Human error was cited as the cause of the issue, but it is unsettling to know that anyone could have gained access to a variety of personal information and private conversations.


Amazon did not answer Gizmodo's questions about how a human error led to this privacy infringement, or whether the company had initially contacted the victim to inform them their sensitive information was shared with a stranger.

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