28/5/2018 – SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Is the Amazon Echo spying on you? At the moment, that's one of the questions Amazon faces about its voice assistant Alexa, which powers its Echo speakers. A woman in Portland, Oregon, says her Echo speaker recorded a conversation with her husband, and then sent the audio file to one of her contacts. Robert Jorgensen, an expert in cybersecurity at the University of the Valley of Utah, discusses whether to worry or not.
Jorgensen says that these seem to be a perfect storm of errors. Many of us have accidentally activated Alexa or Siri, or some other device, with a word that sounds close. In this case, Jorgensen says that it seems that the conversation in the background was interpreted as a command to send a voice message to a contact and then a confirmation to send the message.
So, should we worry about these devices listening to us? Jorgensen says yes and no. To work, they need to listen to us. Normally, only small commands are sent to analyze and they do not send everything they hear. At the same time, there is always the possibility that they capture something inadvertently. He says that if you are having a really sensitive conversation, you may want to mute the device for privacy.
Speaking of privacy, many people have been receiving emails from many companies saying they are updating their privacy policies. On Friday, a new European law came into force, the General Data Privacy Rule, or GDPR, requires companies to provide many more details on how they use consumer data and also give consumers access to view and even eliminate your own data.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will change the way companies use the date, but Google and Facebook have already been sued under the new law.
For more information, visit UVU.edu/Cybersecurity.