Amazon is making good on its attempt to maintain privacy for its Alexa-powered devices, even though the hot-button issue has cooled off this year.
The most notable change is a new option to automatically delete your voice recordings immediately after being processed by Alexa. A written copy of these recordings will still be available for 30 days, but the one you want can be deleted at any time.
Amazon is working to improve privacy for Alexa, especially after a dispute about human reviewers last year.
Mitta said that Amazon has worked to add a lot more information around Alexa, including hundreds of new answers from voice assistants about privacy questions.
“It’s not just about control and transparency,” he said. “It’s important to help customers understand how this technology works. So education is an important part of the privacy program. We have to take our customers with us. So that’s a sense of the many things we’ve done. ”
It would be important to make such changes to build confidence in voice assistants after rocky 2019, which included a dispute over human reviewers listening to recordings of customers. Additionally, Amazon is working to bring Alexa to more locations like the car and the office, so ensuring that customers are confident that Amazon devices will be required to extend Alexa outside the home.
Last year, Alexa and all other prominent voice assistants made a big hit to their reputation after media reports surfaced that the companies running these assistants were listening to and annotating a small selection of customer recordings of human reviewers. Uses. To ensure that these digital assistants needed practice to work, but news stories highlighted a significant number of privacy problems, with reviewers sensitive to doctor-patient interactions and people like having sex Were listening to the recording.
Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google‘s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana made all changes to allow customers to restrict human reviews of their recordings, which helped calm the controversy. Mitta said Amazon has made several internal security and privacy changes, such as clearing information that can identify a customer from a recording that is reviewed by an individual. He said that Amazon has continuously published blog posts and other informational content to educate customers about Alexa, which remains a relatively new technology after six years.
In addition to the new auto-delete feature, Amazon will delete all your saved voice recordings later this year by saying, “Alexa, delete what I’ve said.” You could have previously done this only by using the Alexa app or by visiting Amazon.com.
Last year, Amazon added a similar command: “Alexa, delete everything I’ve said today.”
Mitta admitted that some new privacy features would restrict some Alexa capabilities. For example, some personalizations will not be available if you turn on the new automatic deletion option. But he said that Amazon would continue to find a balance between privacy controls and the need for new features.
Mitta’s team added hundreds of new privacy responses to Alexa, which will begin Thursday, so people can ask things like, “Alexa, can I turn off your camera?” If you ask, “Alexa, how do I review my privacy settings?” The voice assistant will then send the notification to the Alexa app.
Finally, Amazon will send an email to customers about their Alexa privacy options by the end of the year. Mitta said that there are no plans to send more such emails right now, as the company is still learning the best ways to provide customers with useful privacy information when and how they want it.
There are still many critics of Amazon’s voice assistant. The advocacy group Fight for the Future, for example, has often claimed that Amazon is using its smart home devices for monitoring and data collection.
Those criticisms mean Mitta is more likely to improve Alexa’s privacy.