How to Stop Amazon From Sharing What You Say to Alexa with Contractors
Millions of people have smart speakers like the Echo. They are great tools that let you schedule tasks, play audiobooks, look up basic info, and what have you.
Alas, all that convenience comes at a price: your privacy. Bloomberg reported a few weeks ago that Amazon not only records what you say to Alexa but also shares those recordings with contractors. This includes not just the instructions you gave Alexa but also whatever Alexa may have picked up by accident.
Sometimes an Alexa-enabled devices mishears what you say; it thinks it heard the "Alexa" wake-up command when you didn’t intend to summon it. For example, the French avec sa, “with his” or “with her", hs been known to confuse Alexa into thinking someone was using the Alexa wake word.
Amazon shares all that info with contractors, and also gives them a user’s first name and Amazon account number, as well as the device’s serial number.
If this lack of privacy bothers you, there’s a way to stop it. Visit the Manage my Content & Devices page on Amazon, and select the option of Alexa privacy. Scroll down to the section labeled "Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa". Click the arrow.
On the next page you will see a blue toggle next to a label that reads "Help Develop New Features". Click the blue toggle to disable this feature and enhance your privacy. You may also see one or more blue toggles in a section labeled Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions. Uncheck those blue toggles as well.
It’s not clear that this will stop Amazon from sharing your recordings, however. According to Bloomberg, Amazon said "people who opt out of that program might still have their recordings analyzed by hand over the regular course of the review process".
If you really want to stop them from exploiting your recordings, you will need to delete the recordings. I explained how to do that over in another post.