Fear that Amazon’s Alexa is Listening In On You? Here’s How to Stop It
Since the beginning of 2019, almost every major news outlet has reported that Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa, is listening in on you all the time. This has stirred up a lot of attention among privacy advocates all around the globe and shed light on two other companies that have also been accused of similar tactics – Facebook and Google. Seeing that this is a topic of extreme importance, here at ZoogVPN, we decided to put all of our efforts into researching the depths of this subject to find out the truth about these recently-developed events.
In this three-part privacy article, we will continue in the next few weeks, we will address all of the information about these three companies that has been circulating online over the past few months. In this week’s Zlog, we’re taking a look at Amazon’s convenient, but very controversial voice assistant. Continue reading to find out everything about this product and learn how to stop Amazon’s Alexa from listening in on you.
The Backstory of the Amazon Alexa Controversy
In spring of this year, many reputable sites, including Forbes, Bloomberg and CNN have reported that Amazon’s Alexa is listening to you even when you’re not directly speaking to it. This sparked a lot of attention in the online world, with some media sites even reporting that Amazon has thousands of employees solely dedicated to listening and transcribing Amazon Echo voice recordings from homes and offices.
The biggest argument that went in support for the claim that Amazon’s Alexa is listening in on its users lies behind the simple “Alexa” wake word. According to privacy experts, if the device wasn’t always on standby and listening, how would it be able to act on the wake command?
Tips On How To Stop Amazon’s Alexa From Listening In
No matter how much of this controversy is stirred up by fact and how much by people pushing back on the ever-increasing privacy infringements brought on by new technology, there are ways to stop Amazon’s Alexa from listening in on you and rid yourself of this worry in the future. Here are our tips on how to do it.
Take Precautionary Measures with the Mic and Camera
Amazon Echo owners know that all Alexa devices have a mute button. While skeptics say this is just there to give us a false sense of comfort, the mute button does work – in a way. Since the whole purpose of Alexa is to serve as a voice assistant, setting the device on mute would effectively render it useless. Our advice to this is to mute Alexa every time you’re not planning on actively using it. The mute mode does what its name says and is the best solution to go for if you want to maintain maximum privacy and still use Amazon Alexa whenever you need it.
In the same breath, you can turn off the camera in just one single move. Amazon Echo devices with a screen and camera, also come with a built-in screen slider, which you can move to block the camera. This mechanism allows you to use the echo with the camera blocked around the clock, without having to lose out on the device’s useful features.
Edit Your Privacy Settings
Aside from shutting down microphone and camera functions, this is the most effective action you can take to stop Amazon’s Alexa from listening in on you. While in your Alexa Account, go to settings and set the “Help Develop New Features and Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions” to off. As an AI, Alexa feeds of all of your recorded commands and by setting this option to off, you will make your voice commands less accessible to Amazon when testing out new features. In addition to this, thanks to the relatively vague wording in the device’s T&Cs, Amazon is allowed to do what it wants with its users’ voice recordings. By setting the option mentioned above to off, you will be slightly safer from such actions from the company.
To summarize this week’s article, although the situation is less than ideal, things are rarely as bleak as they seem on the news. In the end, we, the users, are the ones who decide which products we will let into our homes. Unfortunately, we often forget