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Expert warns people not to keep Amazon Echo Alexa in their bedrooms

Jess Hardiman

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Expert warns people not to keep Amazon Echo Alexa in their bedrooms

Many of us have become reliant on smart devices in our everyday lives, opting to ask for a quick weather update before deciding whether or not to grab an umbrella, or commanding a quick Google to get to the bottom of a heated debate.

But one tech expert has warned against allowing your Amazon Echo device into the bedroom.

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Dr Hannah Fry, who was the first female mathematician to deliver a Christmas lecture at the Royal Institution in 2019, has spoken out against having your smart device - more specifically an Amazon Echo - in anywhere but the downstairs rooms of your house.

She explained to the Daily Mail back in 2019 why she thinks families should follow her example by not allowing Alexa to hear too much of their personal business.

Maybe just confine her to the kitchen, eh?

It's been speculated on for ages that Amazon might be eavesdropping on your house via the devices.

Fry warned against having one of these in your bedroom. Credit: Chesh/Alamy Stock Photo
Fry warned against having one of these in your bedroom. Credit: Chesh/Alamy Stock Photo

To be fair, you did buy a device that listens to your every command and set it up in the house to do just that.

Whistle-blowers suggested in 2019 that Amazon might have been tapping into conversations across Britain in order to check that the devices were working properly.

In that time, they allegedly heard a woman singing to herself in the shower, and someone reading out their confidential bank details.

That's not ideal, is it?

At the time of Fry's warning, there were around two million houses in the UK with an Amazon device, but she advised against the creeping acceptance to allow such devices into our personal and private lives.

She said: "I think there are some spaces in your home, like the bedroom and bathroom, which should remain completely private.

"This technology is activated by a trigger word [such as 'Alexa'] but it keeps recording for a short period afterwards. People accept that, but we should all spend more time thinking about what it means for us."

Dr Hannah Fry. Credit: John Gaffen/Alamy Stock Photo
Dr Hannah Fry. Credit: John Gaffen/Alamy Stock Photo

While Amazon has previously denied spying on ordinary folks through the devices, it has been revealed that there are workers in places like Costa Rica, Romania and India who have been listening to as many as 1,000 audio clips each day.

After asking the technology companies to provide all data they'd collected on her, Dr Fry was furnished with recordings of normal, everyday conversations that had taken place in her house.

She added: "There are people who are very senior in the tech world who will not have so much as a smartphone in their bedroom.

"If a company is offering you a device with an internet-connected microphone at a low price, you have to think about that very carefully.

"I have both an Alexa and a Google voice-activated device and I regularly turn them both off. People really must set their own limits."

There you have it. It's fine to own such a device - just think about how you use it, and how much you let it know.

A spokesperson for Amazon told LADbible: "Echo devices are designed to record audio only after the device detects your chosen wake word (Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Ziggy or Computer).

"You will always know when Alexa is sending your request to the cloud because a blue light indicator will appear on your Echo device. We manually review only a small fraction of one percent of Alexa requests to help improve Alexa.

"Access to these review tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service.

"Our review process does not associate voice recordings with any customer identifiable information.

"You can also easily opt-out of having your voice recordings included in the fraction of one percent of voice recordings that get reviewed."

Featured Image Credit: Erkan Katırcı/LDNPix/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Technology, Amazon

Jess Hardiman
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