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Expert warns parents not to put voice-activated gadgets in bedrooms

Claire Reid

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| Last updated 

Expert warns parents not to put voice-activated gadgets in bedrooms

Featured Image Credit: SeventyFour Images / Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy

A technology expert has warned people against keeping an Amazon Echo in the bedroom.

Loads of us have the handy AI assistants in our homes, and I’m sure plenty of you unwrapped one on Christmas day, but while they certainly have their uses one expert has recommended keeping them out of the bedroom.

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As you probably know, the Echo is powered by ‘Alexa’, which is voice activated, meaning you can simply ask aloud ‘Alexa, what time is it?’ or ‘Alexa, what is the weather like today?’ and it will let you know.

But you may not know that the smart speaker also continues to record for a short period after you’ve asked the question.

Dr Hannah Fry, a mathematician and expert on tech company algorithms at University College London, told the Liverpool Echo: "I think there are some spaces in your home, like the bedroom and bathroom, which should remain completely private.

"This technology is activated by a trigger word but it keeps recording for a short period afterwards. People accept that, but we should all spend more time thinking about what it means for us."

An expert has suggested you may want to keep your Echo out of the bedroom. Credit: Nathaniel Noir / Alamy Stock Photo
An expert has suggested you may want to keep your Echo out of the bedroom. Credit: Nathaniel Noir / Alamy Stock Photo

Dr Fry also revealed that she had sent a request to Amazon to find out what date it held on her and ‘recordings of conversations taken from within her home’.

There is a way to stop Alexa from recording some of your conversations; on the Alexa app head to 'Privacy' and then 'Manage Your Alexa Data', from here click the option 'How Long to Save Recordings' and hit ‘Don't Save Recordings’.

A spokesperson for Amazon said: "Echo devices are designed to record audio only after the device detects your chosen wake word (Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Ziggy or Computer). Customers will always know when Alexa is sending your request to the cloud because a blue light indicator will appear on your Echo device.

The device lights up to let you know it’s ‘listening’ Credit: Chesh / Alamy Stock Photo
The device lights up to let you know it’s ‘listening’ Credit: Chesh / Alamy Stock Photo

"We manually review only a small fraction of one percent of Alexa requests to help improve Alexa. Access to these review tools is only granted to a limited number of employees who require them to improve the service. Our review process does not associate voice recordings with any customer identifiable information.

"Customers can also easily opt-out of having their voice recordings included in the fraction of one percent of voice recordings that get reviewed.”

You can find more information about Alexa and Privacy here.

Topics: Technology, Home

Claire Reid
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