Amazon has admitted that it does not always delete stored data it achieves through voice interactions with its Alexa and Echo devices – even after a user chooses to wipe the audio files from their account. Revelations, explicitly outlined by Amazon in a letter to Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), which was published today and dated June 28, creates even more light on the company's privacy practices with regard to its digital voice assistant.
The answers are a follow-up to a request from Coon's dating to last month when Coons asked how long the company continues to vote for recordings and transcriptions from Echo interactions. In this week's letter, Amazon confirmed some of the allegations. "We keep the customer's voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them," the letter shows.
Following a CNET survey published in May, it was also a question of whether Amazon kept on text prints of voice interactions with Alexa, even after a user has chosen to delete the audio equivalent. Amazon says some of the transcripts or information extracted from the transcriptions have not actually been removed, both because the company has to scrub the data from different parts of its global data storage systems, and because in some cases Amazon chooses to hold on to the data without telling the user .
Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, said in his reply that the company is engaged in an "ongoing effort to ensure that transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa's other storage systems." In other words, even if a user manually deletes the audio version, some text versions are still stored in separate storage systems for some unknown time. Nevertheless, in some cases where Amazon considers the set of Alexa functions to be obstructed by deleting data, the company decides to hold on to some version of the data.
Amazon claims it doesn't hold on to the audio files, but it can hold on to transaction information if someone uses Alexa to call an uber or add a food delivery order, for example. "We do not store the sound of Alexa's response. However, we can still keep other customer's Alexa interaction interactions, including actions by Alexa Alexa responding to the customer's request," Huseman wrote.
The letter also points out that the company, and even developers of Alexa skills, can keep track of each transaction or routine scheduled activity that a user makes with an Echo device. This, says Amazon, ensures that the task is easily repeatable and convenient for the user.
"And for other types of Alexa requests ̵
In recent months, much attention has been paid to Alexa's inner work, following a report by Bloomberg In April, outlining how thousands of employees, many of whom are contract workers and some not even directly employed by Amazon, have access to both Alexa speech and text prints, which in theory can be used to gather information about a user's personal life. claim that this data has been reviewed and annotated by humans to improve Alexa over time, using machine learning methods to train the underlying art provide the intelligence software.
But the lack of clarity on how and to what end Amazon collects and stores this data, and why it is confusing to get it completely scrubbed from the company's servers, has led to renewed control over what Amazon claims is industry standard practice for companies that build AI-dependent tools and services.
The bets are only higher, since Alexa now handles sensitive patient health information. Amazon has also been a fire from children and privacy law groups claiming that the company violates the Children & # 39; s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting and storing data on children under the age of 13 with their Amazon Echo Dot Kids devices.
"Amazon's answer sheet opens the possibility that user voice contact transcripts with Alexa will not be deleted from all Amazon servers, even after a user has deleted a recording of their voice," Coon said in a statement. "The American people deserve to understand how their personal data is being used by technology companies, and I will continue to work with both consumers and businesses to identify how to best protect Americans personal information."