You may want to reconsider keeping your Amazon Echo Alexa in your bedroom, as experts have issued a stark warning.
More than 500 million of these voice-activated devices have been sold since the Echo debuted in late 2014, as per Geek Wire.
From asking it questions to requesting a weather update, the Echo is a useful tool to have around the house.
But apparently, it’s best to keep it in your living room, dining room or kitchen.
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Dr Hannah Fry, a mathematician and expert on tech company algorithms at University College London, claimed to the Liverpool Echo that the device can record conversations and that it should not be placed in private areas such as the bedroom and bathroom.
She explains: “I think there are some spaces in your home, like the bedroom and bathroom, which should remain completely private.
“This technology is activated by a trigger word but it keeps recording for a short period afterwards. People accept that, but we should all spend more time thinking about what it means for us.”
Dr Fry adds that she reached out to tech firms and asked them to provide the data they had collected on her.
Dr Fry claimed she was presented with recordings of conversations taken from within her home.
She added that ‘very senior’ people in the tech industry revealed that won’t even take their smartphones into the bedroom.
Dr Fry also advises buyers to be cautious when it comes to purchasing low-price technology with microphones linked to the internet.
Amazon previously admitted that staff had listened to customers’ conversations through Alexa, citing that the recordings were solely used to help improve the Echo device’s understanding of human speech.
A spokesperson for Amazon said (via Mirror): “Echo devices are designed to record audio only after the device detects your chosen wake word (Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Ziggy or Computer).
“Customers will always know when Alexa is sending your request to the cloud because a blue light indicator will appear on your Echo device.
“We manually review only a small fraction of one per cent of Alexa requests to help improve Alexa. Access to these review tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service.
“Our review process does not associate voice recordings with any customer-identifiable information.”
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Fortunately, Amazon did add that Alexa owners can ‘opt-out’ of having their recordings used by Amazon staff and there is an option in the settings to turn this off.
To do this, you need to open the Alexa app on your smartphone, go to settings, head to Alexa privacy and select ‘Manage Your Alexa Data’.
Click ‘How Long to Save Recordings’, then ‘Don’t Save Recordings’ and press confirm.
You’ll then want to scroll down to ‘Help Improve Alexa’ and switch the ‘Use of Voice Recordings’ to off.
On some devices, you may receive a message informing you that turning the setting off will mean ‘new features may not work well for you’.
But if you would rather your private recordings remain private, just turn the on button to off.
On top of this, there is also an option under the Alexa privacy settings menu which will let you play back and delete specific recordings from your device.