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Voice Command Devices are Raising Privacy Issues

Voice command devices continue to be a part of the average person’s life, but how much are they really capable of?

Lately, it seems as if a new voice controlled device is released every year. Voice command devices were originally created to make its user’s life simple, convenient and overall incredibly cool.

One of the most current of these voice command devices is Amazon’s Echo, a hands-free device designed around your voice. As soon as Echo detects the “wake word” (you can either choose the name “Alexa” or “Amazon”), it listens to your command and then instantly provides it.  Echo is capable of providing services such as:

  • Playing a song
  • The current score of a game
  • Answering random questions
  • Today’s weather and news
  • Reading a book aloud

You are able to tell when Echo is listening or answering to your commands when the circumference of the top of the device starts to glow blue.

Check out our personal review of Echo here!

Users of Echo are noticing that the glowing blue light is on when they are having private conversations nearby that are not directed towards Echo. This is because Echo is an “always on” device, which means it is constantly listening for its user to utter the “wake word.”

Even though not all of the users know it, these conversations recorded by Echo are captured and transmitted to a third party. Needless to say, this has brought up privacy concerns.

Echo isn’t the only IoT (Internet of Things) device being questioned by its user. Other voice command devices such as Microsoft’s Kinect, Samsung’s new Smart TV and Google’s Chromium Web browser are all being investigated by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for privacy concerns.

Although these privacy concerns seem to be a deal breaker for many users, owning a voice command device remains to be one of the most popular technology trends today.

If you have a voice command device or are interested in purchasing one, consider these suggestions in order to avoid any privacy issues:

  • Read the Privacy Policy fine print
  • Manage the Privacy Settings/Preferences to your liking
  • Physically turn off device to ensure private conversations are not being recorded
  • Deactivate Voice Recognition feature when desired

Sources:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2947157/nest-amazon-and-their-iot-ilk-spark-privacy-concerns.html

http://recode.net/2015/07/07/the-amazon-echo-everything-you-might-not-know/

 

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