Amazon Customer Receives 1700 Audio Files Of A Stranger Who Used Alexa

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a brief appearance in a Super Bowl ad for his company's Alexa digital assistant

An Amazon user in Germany was accidentally sent 1,700 audio recordings of someone he didn't know after he requested his own data file, exercising his rights under the EU's GDPR. The company, however, deleted the files from the link later but by that time he had already copied them on his computer.

A user of Amazon's Alexa smart voice assistant was sent audio files from a stranger after requesting access to his own recordings.

From the files, coupled with Facebook and Twitter information, the magazine said it was able to identify and contact the Alexa user, whose name also was not disclosed.

"This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case", an Amazon spokesman said on Thursday. "We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes", an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge in a statement. "We were also in touch on a precautionary basis with the relevant regulatory authorities", Amazon added. The issue was first detailed by German publication c't. Those recordings reportedly contained conversations between a male and a "female companion". A user can mute the devices, and they can also listen to past recordings and delete them.

About 74.2 million Americans are expected to use smart speakers at least once a month next year, 15% more than did so this year, with Amazon's Alexa capturing 63.3% market share, down from 66.6% this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer that was emailed to Retail Dive. It's not an isolated incident, according to Reuters. The alarms, Spotify commands, and public transport inquiries included in the data revealed a lot about the victims' personal habits, their jobs, and their taste in music.

Imagine if you had Amazon Alexa-enabled speakers all over your house.

"The potential uses for the Amazon datasets are off the charts", Marc Groman, an expert on privacy and technology policy who teaches at Georgetown Law, told reporters.

Companies need to take human errors into account when it comes to privacy leaks and violations. Back then Amazon called it "an extremely rare occurrence" and blamed it on a one-of a kind string of coincidences where the device interpreted the user's conversation as a series of directions to blurt out what they were saying to a random.

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