Amazon admits employing workers to listen to Alexa conversations

Amazon has admitted when its Echo smart speakers are spoken to, one of the technology giant's employees may be listening.

The company employs thousands of people to listen to what is said to the speakers, transcribe the recording and then feed what words were said back into the system.

This is done in an attempt to help the speaker's virtual assistant, Alexa, better understand human speech and make it better at responding to commands.

The employees live in several countries, like the United States, India and Romania, according to Bloomberg, and have reportedly signed nondisclosure agreements to not speak about the programme.

Two employees told Bloomberg that while Amazon says it has procedures in place in case they hear something criminal, in the past they have been told by the company not to interfere.

Amazon said in a statement that it only listens to a small amount of recordings and takes privacy very seriously.

"Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.

"All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it."

It said the employees don't have access to the customer's full names, address or most other personal data. But they can see the device's serial number and the Amazon account associated with the device.

Nothing can be heard unless the device is enabled by the user.


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