“Unplug your Alexa devices right now…You’re being hacked.”
That was the disturbing message that a Portland family received just weeks after installing the Amazon listening devices throughout their home.
As KIRO7 reports, Danielle, who did not want us to use her last name, contacted Amazon to investigate after they say a private conversation in their home was recorded by Amazon’s Alexa, and that the recorded audio was sent to the phone of a random person in Seattle, who was in the family’s contact list.
“My husband and I would joke and say I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying,” said Danielle.
After receiving the call above from one of her husband’s employees – who was in the family’s contact list – Danielle says she unplugged all the devices, and she repeatedly called Amazon. She says an Alexa engineer investigated.
“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us.'”
“I felt invaded,” she said. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.'”
Danielle says the engineer did not provide specifics about why it happened, or if it’s a widespread issue.
“He told us that the device just guessed what we were saying,” she said.
Danielle said the device did not audibly advise her it was preparing to send the recording, something it’s programmed to do.
When KIRO 7 asked Amazon questions, they sent this response:
“Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.“
This is not the first ‘anomaly’ that has occurred with these domestic spying devices.