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Postdoctoral Researchers, Dr Garfield Benjamin discusses the implications using Amazon's Echo or Alexa devices have on personal data protection and privacy.

20th January 2020

Postdoctoral Researchers, Dr Garfield Benjamin discusses the implications using Amazon's Echo or Alexa devices have on personal data protection and privacy.

Amazon Echo and the Alexa voice assistant have had widely publicised issues with privacy. Whether it is the amount of data they collect or the fact that they reportedly pay employees and, at times, external contractors from all over the world to listen to recordings to improve accuracy, the potential is there for sensitive personal information to be leaked through these devices.

But the risks extend not just to our relationship with Amazon. Major privacy concerns are starting to emerge in the way Alexa devices interact with other services – risking a dystopian spiral of increasing surveillance and control.

The setup of the Echo turns Amazon into an extra gateway that every online interaction has to pass through, collecting data on each one. Alexa knows what you are searching for, listening to or sending in your messages. Some smartphones do this already, particularly those made by Google and Apple who control the hardware, software and cloud services.

Read Garfield Benjamin's article in full on The Conversation