Facebook is not the only company that is struggling to maintain the safety and privacy of their users’ data. E-commerce giant Amazon reportedly sent 1,700 audio files to a wrong user in Germany.
As per the General Data Protection Regulation in EU law, users can exercise their rights to privacy and request own data. Similarly, a user in Germany requested a copy of all his data shared with Amazon. A couple of months later, he received a 100MB file from Amazon. To his surprise, the file included hundreds of audio files and Alexa transcripts that did not belong to him, in addition to his own Amazon search history.
He reported the situation to Amazon, but Amazon did not respond.
A detailed report published by Germanys’ C’t magazine put together a detailed description of the other user and his personal habits based on his audio conversations with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. The magazine, in its detailed report, figured out all the devices he owns, his favourite music.
In what could be an alarming situation when it comes to maintaining own privacy, with the help of the shared data, the magazine could also figure out who his girlfriend is and listened to him in the shower. When contacted by the magazine, the victim reportedly identified himself who was not notified about this leak by Amazon.
According to reports, Amazon responded by calling it a “one-time error” by a staff member. However, Amazon could be held responsible and liable for fines under EU law.
This incident leads to a serious concern: Can we trust these virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa? However, Amazon maintains that its Echo devices are not always listening to their users’ conversations and activates only when it hears the word “Alexa.”