When you talk to Alexa, the Amazon digital assistant may not be the only one listening.
A Bloomberg report revealed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world, from Boston to Costa Rica to Romania, listen to voice recordings captured by the Echo speaker in order to improve Alexa's performance, raising privacy concerns.
Amazon told Kristen Dahlgren on TODAY Friday that the information "helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone."
Unless you utter your chosen wake word to the Echo device, be it "Alexa," "Amazon," "Computer," or "Echo," the device does not store or send any audio or data to the cloud, an Amazon spokesperson told TODAY.
However, if the thought of Amazon employees listening to your chats with Alexa is too unsettling, Dahlgren demonstrated how you can disable that function by following these seven quick steps:
- Open the Alexa app on your phone.
- Tap the menu button on the top left of the screen.
- Select "Alexa Account."
- Choose "Alexa Privacy."
- Select "Manage how your data improves Alexa."
- Turn off the button next to "Help Develop New Features."
- Turn off the button next to your name under "Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions."
The company reviews only a small number of randomly selected recordings, and employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account, an Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg.
"Privacy and security are first and foremost super important to us,'' Amazon vice president of Alexa experience Toni Reid told NBC News in November. "We take it very seriously. We design it into our products from the beginning."