Are you one of the millions of people who use a "smart assistant," like Amazon's Alexa?
The Alexa Voice Service can be used to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and much more. You just need a hands-free speaker like the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot that you control with your voice.
The Echo has seven built-in microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room, even if you have music playing. It's an amazing piece of technology.
However, having a device in your home that's always listening poses some privacy concerns. For example, is everything you say being recorded and if so, who has access to the recordings?
That's why you need to know about these essential Echo security settings to help alleviate those concerns.
Is Amazon Echo always listening?
The short answer is yes.
Alexa is activated when it detects one of its wake words, which are "Alexa," "Amazon," "Computer," or "Echo." You'll know that the device is ready for a command when the outer ring at the top glows blue.
When activated, Alexa allows you to search the web, play music, and even control other smart home devices you've added to your home network. For example, with the right smart gadgets, you can turn off the lights in another room, lock the front door, turn up the thermostat, etc.
The downside is that Amazon keeps an audio recording of every voice command you've issued to Alexa. When you give a command to Alexa, a recording of that command is stored on Amazon's servers.
According to Amazon, there is also a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word that is stored along with each recording. That fraction of a second gets saved along with your main command, and the recording ends after the command has been processed.
Are these recordings all bad? Not necessarily. They're meant to enhance your user experience and help Alexa fine tune its comprehension.
However, you're probably not comfortable having someone rummage through your internet search history. The same concern rings true with your Alexa requests.