Electronics listening to us again - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Electronics listening to us again

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JACKSON METRO AREA, MS (WLBT) -

Amazon is facing questions over its voice assistant "Alexa" which powers its Echo speakers. That's because a woman in Portland says her "Echo" speaker recorded a conversation with her husband... then sent the audio file to a contact. 

It raises questions about just how often our electronic devices are listening to us. 

"There was a breach of all kinda rights with the Amazon Echo," says Jonathan Johnson.

 Johnson owns Cell Phone Repair in Brandon. He has worked in the electronic business for more than 15 years.

"Not only is it unethical it's saving that information to a database somewhere," he said.

Johnson is referring to the latest incident involving Amazon's Alexa.

"So the Amazon Echo recorded a private conversation that a couple was having in their house," he said.

According to Amazon, Echo woke up after it heard a word in the background conversation that sounded like Alexa. 

Then the subsequent conversation was heard as "send message."

At Which point, Alexa said, To Whom? 

Alexa then heard something in that conversation that it identified as a name and it sent the message.

In this case, the couple was talking about the hardwood floors, nothing major. But what if it was something personal. How can you know if and what is being recorded? 

Edward Ellington says that it would be naive to think that ANY device that is programmed to listen is not always doing just that.

"I want a new mattress and you said that without the context of Alexa. More than likely you will get a new mattress ad on Facebook," said Ellington.

When asked if it's ethically right? Ellington says absolutely not... but for business purposes, it's a great tool. 

"If I was a businessman and wanted to know who my clientele was, absolutely," he says.

And what about the benefits? The convenience of  Siri and Google assistant at your side?

"It's not the price that we should pay, but it is the price we are paying," he added.

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