Alexa listened to a couple's conversation and sent it to the husband's employee without permission


Originally published at:


A device designed for (among other things) recording audio and sending it to people recorded audio and sent it to people. This is hardly a surprise.

Note that this is qualitatively different from the privacy violation fears most commonly discussed: The Mothership scouring our private conversations so it can better sell us stuff. What happened here is well within normal operating parameters. Ordering Alexa to record a voice memo and send it to an existing contact is a perfectly reasonable sequence of actions.



Bet you that the couple is still on Facebook.


The down side is nobody is ever ever having noisy sex when this happens.


I don’t see how this is possible unless Amazon intentionally included this spyware “feature” and it happened to be buggy. I like using voice commands in my car, but privacy-wise it’s a disaster.


Who would admit that they’d received recordings like that?

Crying out the wrong name in sex just got even more dangerous: Alexa might take it as a CC.


“Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future enter contract negotiations with the NSA to backdoor it."


I’ll never get why anyone would put such a device in their home. People really need to read 1984 but alas, more and more people’s attention spans are probably in the way of reading more than half a page.


Oh wow, you put an audio recorder in your house that recognizes words badly and will consider any random noise a command to access your entire social network and do some random thing with it. Great idea. But you don’t to get to be surprised that random stuff happens. It’s a feature, not a bug.


Some people are just comfortable with their information being out there.



[fictional] “The spokesman went on to say, ‘It’s extremely rare for Alexa to send surreptitiously recorded audio files to a random email contact. It is supposed to send those to our servers for resale to advertisers, intelligence agencies, law enforcement or at least put them up for auction on the dark net. Sending them to someone’s email is just wasteful.’”[/fictional]


Every smartphone and most computers could do the same. Maybe smart speakers are less likely to receive security patches? But on the other hand, they don’t generally run arbitrary third-party software like phones and computers do.

We’ve all been living around computers with microphones for decades.


A new kind of crime: When you’re out, someone sneaks up to your house, sticks a speaker against a window, and tells Alexa to do stuff.


Yes, it’s a mystery.


True, but my smartphone is in airplane mode 99% of the time and of all my computers, only the laptop has a mike and cam and it is not open 24/7 like that Alexa home spying device.


Things like this are make me want to move more and more to the Adama/Galactica technology model: network nothing, or at least as little as possible. Which of course is getting harder and harder to do with the continuing growth of IoT.


I like the way you think :wink:

Well, the black-hat hacker guy from xkcd does.


I have a friend who uses Alexa to run his TV, stereo, lights, etc. When I go to his house I like to wait until he’s out of the room and say, “Alexa, play ‘The Pina Colada Song’ at full volume at 4:00 a.m. every day.” She says “OK,” but my friend has never mentioned it, so I don’t know if it’s actually happening.


Why that little piece of shit hockey puck!