Smart speakers like Amazon's Echo devices are built to listen to every conversation of people around as long as they're not switched off. To some extent, this may raise certain privacy concerns among users, and rightfully so for an Alexa user residing in Germany.
According to German publication c’t, Amazon inadvertently sent some 1,700 audio recordings from that user to another individual who only asked Alexa to play back his own recordings. The audio files were transmitted through a link, which was confirmed by Amazon, though it added that the incident was caused by a "human error."
An Amazon spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying:
“We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimize our processes. As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities.”
However, before the link was taken down, the recipient already managed to save the audio recordings in his computer. That user reportedly notified Amazon about having access to those private files but the company allegedly did nothing in response. It's not immediately clear whether those recordings have since been deleted from his computer.
This isn't the first time, though, that Alexa accidentally sent private conversations to a third party. Earlier this year, an Echo device recorded the conversation of a Portland, Oregon-based family and sent the recordings to one of its contacts. While Amazon apologized for that incident, it didn't explain how it happened. Hopefully, the company works to prevent a similar case in the future.