Published: Sat, December 22, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

Amazon Blames Human Error for Sharing 1,700 Alexa Audio Files

Amazon Blames Human Error for Sharing 1,700 Alexa Audio Files

The unnamed individual contacted Amazon to ask for all the records the company held on him, a right European Union citizens have as part of the recently enacted GDPR privacy legislation.

"I was very surprised about that because I don't use Amazon Alexa, let alone have an Alexa-enabled device", the customer, who was not named, told the magazine.

The recipient of the files saved and later shared them with the publication, which reviewed the recordings: "Suddenly, we found ourselves in the intimate sphere of strangers without their knowledge".

"This was an unfortunate case of human error and an isolated incident", an Amazon rep told Fortune. Reuters noted that Amazon failed to respond to the consumer who received all of those audio files, and the links were deleted after the man loaded them on his home computer. After c't reached out to Amazon, it was only a matter of days before the company engaged with all parties involved. The man gave his recordings to C't magazine, which was able to contact the person who had their information leaked. Maybe you talk to Alexa to set alarms, control your smart home, and play music in the shower. A female voice was also present on some of the recordings. A North Carolina man said previous year that his Echo recorded a discussion and then sent it to his insurance agent, NPR's Laurel Wamsley reported.

The German page is accessible and provides options to delete recordings that Amazon has on file.

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Amazon said it has "resolved the problem with the two affected customers and taken measures to further improve our procedures". "As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities". The reason given is one of "human error".

In May it was revealed that a conversation between a couple in Portland, Oregon was sent to a random person in their contacts list.

Though the original customer contacted Amazon when he realized he had received some else's personal data, the data was only removed from the repository Amazon placed it on. Google and Amazon keep a copy of every conversation.

Its unclear if the individual whose privacy was breached was even aware that such recordings of himself existed.

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