[H]ardOCP: "Human Error" Allowed an Alexa User to Hear a Neighbor's History

Echo smart speaker spies on another Echo user's home Amazon blames

An Amazon spokesman called the incident an "unfortunate case", per Reuters.

He provided those recordings to the German magazine, which was able to get in touch with the person who owned the house full of Amazon Alexa devices.

What happened? According (PDF) to German computer magazine CT, one of Amazon's German customers requested access to the data the company had stored about him.

Google Home devices, which are powered by the Google Assistant, get high marks for finding information, in line with the search giant's specialty of indexing web content. Apple's HomePod, whose release was delayed past year, is higher priced and emphasizes its integration with Apple Music and the Siri voice assistant. "We have resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes", an Amazon spokesperson told The Verge in a statement. And in a recent incident, the Alexa recordings of a Germany-based man ended up in the mailbox of a total stranger. An individual in Germany requested copies of all of his data on Amazon's files as part of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. He saved the files and shared his story with Germanys' C't magazine. A user can mute the devices, and they can also listen to past recordings and delete them.

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Human error was cited as the cause of the issue, but it is unsettling to know that anyone could have gained access to a variety of personal information and private conversations. And yet, how personal recordings of a man ended up being with a total stranger is a tale that can be turned into a movie.

Amazon Echo devices, which are powered by the Alexa voice assistant, provide a gateway to the e-commerce giant's shopping platform and can connect to more than 20,000 smart home devices, The Washington Post reported. A female voice was also present on some of the recordings. There were also alarms, Spotify commands, public transport and weather inquiries.

But the research program is fraught with privacy data collecting pitfalls, of the kind that have recently roiled Facebook. He was told that an Amazon employee had sent his data to the wrong GDPR requester, since he and the first man involved had both asked for their data.

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