Luxembourg Privacy Watchdog Focuses On Amazon’s Alexa Over Privacy Issues

Information about Amazon’s voice activated virtual assistant Alexa has been sought from the company by the privacy regulators of Luxembourg which clearly indicates there are increasing concerns among the regulators about how the company makes us eof personal data of users – especially voice data.

Politicians and privacy enforcers are now getting incerasingly concerned about the security and the manner of handling by some companies of recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants with the rising popularity of Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.

Last week, reviews by third party of users’ voice recordings of their voice assistants were halted by Apple and Google. According to reports, confidential information and private conversations had been heard by the third parties entrusted with the job or reviewing the recordings.

Mounting concerns over data privacy has forced both Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to suspend globally of reviewing of recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants.

Regulators and law makers in the United States and other regions are debating various measures that would seek to put in curbs on the manner in which internet companies track and distribute consumer information such as those in voice assistants which is becoming a greater part of the everyday life of people such as the Siri from Google and Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa.

A program called “grading” has been suspended by Apple, the company said on Friday. This program is one where the company used to review anonymized recordings of conversations that the users of Siri had with the automated voice assistant.

It is in touch with the U.S. online retailer regarding Alex, said regulators in Luxembourg which is the lead privacy watchdog for Amazon where it has its European headquarters. “At this stage, we cannot comment further about this case as we are bound by the obligation of professional secrecy,” a spokesman of the regulator said.

Steps to resolve any concerns have been taken by it, Amazon said. “For Alexa, we already offer customers the ability to opt out of having their voice recordings used to help develop new Alexa features,” a spokeswoman for the company told the media.

“The voice recordings from customers who use this opt-out are also excluded from our supervised learning workflows that involve manual review of an extremely small sample of Alexa requests.”

(Adapted from ChannelNewsAsia.com)

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