Amazon is currently investigating claims that a Portland family’s Alexa-enabled device recorded their private conversation and sent it off to a random person on their contacts list, according to a new report.
The report comes from Seattle’s KIRO 7 News. A woman named Danielle (who declined to use her last name) claims she was contacted by one of her husband’s employees in Seattle, who explained that he heard a conversation her family was having about hardwood floors — on his phone.
“The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now,'” Danielle told KIRO 7. “‘You’re being hacked.'”
Danielle claims the conversation was sent back to her. She unplugged her Alexa devices and contacted Amazon, who said they were investigating the issue.
As she told KIRO 7:
“They said ‘our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we’re sorry.’ He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!”
Amazon said they’re investigating the situation and “determined this was an extremely rare occurrence” as they work to prevent it from happening again.
Danielle is seeking a refund for her devices — the report fails to mention which Alexa-enabled Echo device caused the issue — but Amazon hasn’t been willing to do that.
A Major Concern
While Danielle wonders if this has happened to more people, it’s hard to know. There’s always the possibility other users heard some kind of conversation but didn’t know what it was and ignored it. We’ll see if Amazon will be able to nail down the size of the problem based on their logs.
If all of this did indeed happen as explained by the device owner, Amazon needs to offer a credible, public explanation of exactly how and why it occurred. How does a conversation manage to get recorded unknowingly and randomly sent to a contact? An issue like this is enough to give us pause on Amazon’s entire Echo family of products until some answers are provided.