Alexa user accesses stranger’s chats

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Published: December 21, 2018 12:48:15 AM

The customer had asked to listen back to recordings of his own activities made by Alexa but he was also able to access 1,700 audio files from a stranger when Amazon sent him a link, German trade publication c't reported.

Alexa user accesses stranger’s chats

A user of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in Germany got access to more than a thousand recordings from another user because of “a human error” by the company.

The customer had asked to listen back to recordings of his own activities made by Alexa but he was also able to access 1,700 audio files from a stranger when Amazon sent him a link, German trade publication c’t reported.

“This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case,” an Amazon spokesman said on Thursday. The first customer had initially got no reply when he told Amazon about the access to the other recordings, the report said. The files were then deleted from the link provided by Amazon but he had already downloaded them on to his computer, added the report from c’t, part of German tech publisher Heise.

“We resolved the issue with the two customers involved and took measures to further optimise our processes. As a precautionary measure we contacted the relevant authorities,” the Amazon spokesman added.

On the recordings, a man and a female companion could be overheard in his home and the magazine was able to identify and contact him through the recorded information, according to the report.

Meanwhile, shoppers hoping to get their hands on one of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers before Christmas may come away disappointed.

Several of the e-commerce giant’s online stores in North America and Europe showed various models of the Alexa-powered line of gadgets temporarily out of stock on Monday, with shipment delayed to January or beyond in some places. The Echo is the flagship device in Amazon’s growing line of consumer electronics and a fixture of the company’s advertisements during the holiday shopping season.

The company said it sold “millions” of Echo devices worldwide during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and Cyber Monday and that the hockey puck-shaped Echo Dot was the bestselling product on Amazon during that period.

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