I am a known Echo Dot evangelist. I love mine. I try to sell one — Jeff, I’m still waiting on my commission — to anybody who walks into my apartment. “Nah, it’s not that creepy,” I tell my concerned friends. “Well, it’s at least no MORE creepy than any other number of things we all do online already.” Today, I feel … a little potentially creeped out. A family in Portland claims that their Alexa recorded conversations in their home and then sent the audio files to a stranger in Seattle. (Note: The recipient was in the family’s contact list.)
The recipient in Seattle called the family. “Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” he said, Kiro 7 reports. “You’re being hacked.” The family said they promptly did just that. “We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” Danielle — the family declined to give their last name for privacy — said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.’”
Amazon provided the following statement regarding the alleged incident:
Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.
Danielle says that she spoke with an Amazon representative who “apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes.” “They said ‘our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened.” Amazon has reportedly denied Danielle’s requests for a refund on the device. If Danielle and her family are still in the market for a smart-home device, the Google Home could be a good option. Google says it’s fixed that, uh, glitch that caused the Google Home Mini to record everything their owners said. Though, the Google Home notoriously doesn’t recognize Jesus Christ. A trade-off, if you will.