An Amazon Alexa user from Germany exercised his rights under the US’s GDPR and demanded his personal data recorded by the company. What he received from the company was totally shocking.
Amazon did fulfil his rights of receiving audio recordings, but the 1700 audio recordings were of someone else he doesn’t even know.
The user demanded a copy of all the data the company has and two months later he received a 100 MB file which contains some of his own data related to Amazon search is he made.
But along with that, there were hundreds of audio files and Amazon Alexa transcripts in the received file, none of which he could recognise. The surprising thing was he doesn’t even on any of the Echo devices.
He reported this to Amazon and asked for further information but he didn’t get an answer, later he saved the files in shared the story with Germany’s C’t magazine.
When the magazine started its own investigation and listened to the files, it was able to put together an informative picture of who the user is.
They were also able to figure out his personal habits, devices he owns, his taste in music, and the Identity of his girlfriend.
All these things were recorded, probably using the stranger’s Echo device which managed to listen to him even in the shower which sounds creepy as hell.
Finally, they tried to track down the other user who was unaware that Amazon had shared his personal data with someone else. He also confirmed that these audio clips belonged to him and that Amazon didn’t inform him about the leak.
In its defence, Amazon said that this goof-up was the result of one time error made by a staff member. But, the company still stands liable to fine under EU law.
Now, whether the company pays the fine or tries to justify by putting the blame on a staff member, one thing is certain that these Virtual Assistants cannot be trusted at all, and the way these big companies handle our data is also very scary.
Do you use any Virtual Assistant based speakers at home? how comfortable you are now after reading this story let us know in the comments below.