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Echo users cannot feel safe after reading about the information that Amazon employees have access to




Earlier this month, we told you that Amazon has teams of employees in Boston, Indonesia and Romania who listen to consumer recordings that interact with Alexa. Team members transcribe these footage, add comments, and load the information into a program. The goal is to help the virtual personal assistant get better at listening to and understanding human commands. Today, Bloomberg reports that these employees can also access the user's home addresses.

Some team members may discover an Alexa user's geographic coordinates. With this information, the data can be entered into a third-party mapping application to detect the home address of that user. Amazon previously said that these employees and consultants could not obtain information that would allow them to know the names and addresses of each Alexa user whose records they reviewed.

Since then, Amazon has released a statement stating that among members of the Amazon Alexa Data Service Team, only a limited number of people have access to the tools that can help find the Alexa users' addresses. Amazon says those who have the ability to acquire the information need it to process a small number of Alexa interactions. This is done to improve the performance of Amazon's virtual helper.

Despite Amazon's statement to the contrary, two anonymous Amazon employees told Bloomberg that until recently, the vast majority of Alexa Data Service team members had access to the tools needed to obtain the customer's addresses. In addition, using the first time an Echo user gives Alexa a task, the Amazon used the Internet address to get its approximate location. Now the company uses a customer's shipping address as the default location for an Echo unit.

Bloomberg looked like an Alexa Data Services team member, listening to the recording of an Echo user commands to Alexa. He pasted the length and width of the user into Google Maps. Suddenly, the employee's screen showed a picture of the Echo user's home along with his address.

Some questions about Amazon really need a need for this data. Lindsey Barrett, a lawyer and teacher at Georgetown Law's Communications and Technology Clinic, says that the ability of any Amazon employee to access location data is a red flag. She noted that "Whenever anyone collects where you are, it means it can go to someone else who can find you when you don't want to be found."



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