We rely on technology for so much these days, but can it really be trusted?
Amazon lovers everywhere are freaking out over this Oregon family’s A.I. horror story. According to KIRO-TV, a local news station in Portland, Oregon, a family of four said that their Alexa, a voice-controlled smart speaker from Amazon, recorded a private conversation and sent it to someone in their contacts without permission.
The family had the smart speakers installed in multiple rooms in their home. The used the devices for everything from controlling the temperature, security, and lights of their home to making phone calls. Unfortunately, it seems that their smart speaker grew a mind of its own, recording a private conversation the family had in their home and then sending that recording as a file attachment to a person in their contacts that lived hundreds of miles away in Seattle, Washington.
The friend who received the audio files called the family to warn them that their device was sending private recordings, detailing what was said in the conversation he listened in on.
“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” the wife told the news outlet. “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.’”
So I just threw my smart speakers into the garbage https://t.co/puCUS17O31— Katie Benner (@ktbenner) May 24, 2018
The family tried to contact Amazon about the disturbing incident with the company vowing to investigate the odd technical glitch. While the woman says that Amazon apologized profusely for the error, she also claims that the company had yet to offer an explanation for the privacy breach.
This isn’t the first time an Alexa product has come under fire. Just a couple of months ago, users began reporting strange sound emitting from their devices, describing them as “creepy laughs” coming from the smart speakers. In April, Amazon’s smart assistant Echo was revealed to contain a coding error that made it easy for hackers to listen in on users’ private conversations. The company assured customers it had since fixed the flaw, but this new glitch is yet another cause for worry.
As funny as it is to joke about the government and big tech listening in on people’s conversations through devices like smart speakers and voice-activated assistants, it’s another thing to experience this kind of breach in privacy. The family says they’ve deactivated and disconnected their Alexa speakers and have vowed to never use the device again. We can’t blame them.