Who’s listening when you talk around your house?
People may think they are the only ones doing the listening when they tune in to music and news from smart speakers instead of the traditional radio.
Think twice, however, if you purchased such a device.
Research firm Ofcom found that smart speaker ownership in the United Kingdom nearly doubled during the pandemic,
from 22 percent of households in 2020 to 39 percent earlier this year, The Guardian reported.
The growing patronage of the device like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri is also attributed to its ability to execute some order and answer questions from users. This makes Alexa useful wherever it is placed in the house.
A Fox News report, however, has recommended placing Alexa speakers only in the kitchen or living room. It should not be placed in the more intimate parts of the house, namely the bedroom and bathroom, according to the report.
Alexa and other smart speakers are able to take commands from the sound of a person’s voice by constantly listening and recording it. Purchasers are made aware of the functions by consenting to being listened to and recorded.
It’s not simply Alexa on its own that listens to people’s private conversations. Recordings are listened to by Amazon staff for the purpose of improving the product.
Every member of the Alexa staff at Amazon reviews up to 1,000 audio clips per day, according to Fox News.
“Amazon confirmed this as true; however, it ensured customers that the staff only listens to the conversations for research purposes to improve the device’s understanding of human speech for future updates,” the report added.
Alexa’s eavesdropping has stirred complaints from users. Amazon responded by advising users who don’t want to be recorded to simply turn off the device’s recording function in its setting.
Alexa can also be muted by pushing a button with a red light indicating this. On mute mode, Alexa will stop responding to voice commands though.
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