Amazon employee error shares thousands of Alexa recordings with a random user

Yolanda Curtis
December 21, 2018

But the violation of privacy had already transpired: After Amazon had sent the user the link, he downloaded the audio recordings of the stranger to his computer. According to c't magazine, this was peculiar to this user because he doesn't own any Alexa devices and had never used the service.

The man said that the files he was sent included recordings of a man and a woman talking to each other.

Along with receiving his own audio history captured by a home microphone the user also gained access to 1,700 audio files from a person he did not know.

This isn’t the first time an Amazon user received recordings of someone else.
Elaine Thompson  AP
This isn’t the first time an Amazon user received recordings of someone else. Elaine Thompson AP

We were able to navigate around a complete stranger's private life without his knowledge, and the immoral, nearly voyeuristic nature of what we were doing got our hair standing on end. Using these files, it was fairly easy to identify the person involved and his female companion.

Twitter users are reacting to this latest data breach with outrage and shock. He reportedly said that Amazon had not reached out to notify him about the leak.

Though the original customer contacted Amazon when he realized he had received some else's personal data, the data was only removed from the repository Amazon placed it on.

Days later, both the victim and the receiver of the files were called by Amazon to discuss the incident.

Amazon did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

What just happened? Private recordings from an Alexa device were shared with a user they did not belong to as a result of human error.

When an Amazon customer in Germany contacted the company to review his archived data, he wasn't expecting to receive recordings of a stranger speaking in the privacy of a home.

Amazon is claiming that this situation was a simple case of human error and that it is putting mechanisms in place to prevent similar mishaps moving forward. In a statement, the company said it "resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes. As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities", the Amazon spokesman added.

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