Researchers affiliated with several American universities have just published a study on Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant. According to their report, the e-commerce giant uses the voice data of its various devices that embed Alexa to deliver targeted advertisements on its own platforms and on the Web.
In the past, Amazon has been proven to listen to your conversations through Alexa to improve the functionality of its voice assistant. Similar cases made headlines about Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri in 2019. The two manufacturers had decided to suspend eavesdropping and had implemented a consent option so that users had the choice whether or not to share their voice data.
Years later, researchers affiliated with several American universities decided to look again at the case of Alexa. In their report, they state thatAmazon still uses voice data from its Echo devices to deliver targeted ads on its own platforms and on the web.
Specifically, this report titled “Your Echos are Heard: Tracking, Profiling and Ad Targeting in the Amazon Smart Speaker Ecosystem” concludes that Amazon and third parties collect data from your interactions with Alexa through Echo smart speakers and share them with no less than 41 advertising partners. This data is then used to “infer the interests of users” and “deliver targeted advertisements on the platform (on Echo devices) and off-platform (Web)“.
Also read: Google denies spying charges via Google Assistant, no data is kept
Amazon assumes voice data collection through Alexa
The study also adds that this type of data is in high demand by third parties and Amazon partners, since it is negotiated during advertising auctions “30 times higher from advertisers”. Our colleagues from The Verge site contacted Amazon for their reaction. The Seattle firm has confirmed thatit was actually using voice data from interactions with Alexa to display targeted advertisements on Amazon and other sites where Amazon serves its advertisements.
“Similar to what you would experience if you made a purchase from Amazon.com or requested a song through Amazon Music, if you asked Alexa to order paper towels or play a song from Amazon Music, the recording of this purchase or playback of the song enables the display of targeted advertisements on Amazon and other sites where Amazon places advertisements”, confirmed Lauren Raemhild, spokesperson for Amazon.
As a reminder, you have the possibility to prevent the collection of voice data in the settings of the devices compatible with Alexa, in the Privacy tab. You can also go to Amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings. On this page, you will be able to see and manage your voice recordings, and especially manage the authorizations granted to Amazon.
Source: The Verge