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Does Alexa always listen to you? This affects your privacy

The progress that a hyperconnected world leads us to has its pros and cons. One of the “most negative” aspects of this massive connection we could agree that it focuses on our privacy. We provide our devices with private information to, in exchange, obtain services that allow us to lead a more comfortable and practical life. This is a reality of which we are all aware. But what is the truth in all this? Is it true that big tech companies trade with the data they get from their smart devices? Let’s see how the Alexa virtual assistant works, and if it is true that it has the ability to spy on us.

Does Alexa listen or record my conversations?

This is the starting point from which we should all start. It is not the same that Alexa is listening than recording. And why do we say this? Because like any intelligent voice assistant, it is always listening, waiting to receive the order, command or keyword that activates it and thus carry out the order indicated after going through a verification process. from Amazon.

In this way, only when it receives “the keyword” will it begin to record to store the data and send it to the Amazon cloud, which is where all the information it receives is encoded in order to process and act on it. Therefore, the first question is already resolved: Alexa is in permanent listening mode, but not recording. Consequently, she does not send information to the cloud.

So why does it activate without me saying the keyword?

This is because Amazon’s voice assistant activation mechanism can fail. That is, interpret that during the conversation you are having, you have pronounced the key word. And this error occurs because you may have uttered a similar word that confuses the algorithm built into Alexa. In fact, a recent study conducted by Northeastern University found that these failures occur on a recurring basis – about 19 times a day – in smart speakers from Amazon, Echo Dot and Echo Show, as well as speakers from Google and Apple. . A system anomaly that can put us on alert and want to take action.

How to stop Alexa from turning on without my permission?

To avoid cases like the one that happened to a US citizen, where Alexa sent a private conversation with her husband to a co-worker of his, Amazon gives you full control over your recordings. Through the application you can access them and delete them all or individually. You can also configure Alexa not to save any type of conversation or to mute the microphone. This, without a doubt, is a good way to prevent your smart device from listening to you. However, you will also not be able to send a spontaneous command for him to take any action, since his microphone will be muted.

As we said in the first lines, globalization pushes us to be connected almost 24 hours a day, either by being in permanent contact with our smartphones, computers or tablets, or through our household appliances, designed to receive orders.

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