About two-thirds of people said they were most likely to purchase Amazon Alexa as their smart home platform, according to a recent survey from ExpressVPN. Google was the second pick for smart home products at 55%, while Facebook Portal only received 11% of the votes. The survey, published in December 2018, is particularly relevant since the news that Amazon workers listen to audio clips from Alexa in order to improve her responses.
Even though consumers are willing to buy smart home devices, in general, they still reported that they had privacy concerns. 35% of the survey’s respondents said that they would return a device if they learned it was listening to their conversations, and 9% would throw away the device completely. 41% reported that they would disable the device’s microphone, while 17% said they would disconnect it from the Internet. Many consumers were already taking security measures, with a quarter of the respondents making sure their data is encrypted on the devices and 23% unplugging or turning off the devices when they’re not in use. An additional 28% reported that they turn off the microphones when not in use, while 23% covered the cameras while not in use.
This is not the first time Amazon Alexa has been accused of compromising users’ privacy. A study by Checkmarx developed a skill that could have Echo devices secretly record and transcribe audio. Subsequently, Checkmarx told Amazon about the skill so that they could mitigate the risk. Last May, Amazon recorded a user’s private conversation and sent it to one of her contacts, according to a report from KIRO 7 News in Seattle. Amazon claimed that this was an “extremely rare occurrence” that they were working to prevent from happening again. As the majority of consumers surveyed said that they still planned to buy a smart home device as of December, it remains to be seen how this news will affect their buying decisions.