Amazon said the incident involved a series of misunderstandings, with words being confused for commands
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 0.08% said that one of its Echo home speakers mistakenly recorded a private conversation and sent it to a person in the owners’ contact list, an incident that raises questions about the security of such voice-operated devices.
Confirming a report by a local television station in Seattle, Amazon on Thursday said that the Echo device misunderstood pieces of a conversation as commands, causing it to think it was being instructed to send the message.
“As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely,” a spokeswoman added in a statement.
The incident was first reported by KIRO 7, which aired an interview with a Portland, Ore., user identified only as Danielle. The user said that one of her husband’s employees had received a recording sent from inside her house. The couple verified it was real and determined that it originated with one of their Echo devices.
Attempts to reach the woman for comment weren’t immediately successful.
The Echo and other devices from Amazon powered by its artificial-intelligence bot Alexa have sold quickly since hitting the market in 2014, and have been followed by similar gadgets including Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home and AppleInc.’s HomePod. Proponents envision them eventually helping to handle a wide array of personal tasks, from operating smart-home devices to paying for gas from consumers’ cars. Amazon last year enabled the Echo to be used for calling and messaging, too.
The growing popularity of such devices in homes and vehicles has triggered new privacy concerns from some consumers and analysts who fear the combination of internet-connected microphones and AI-powered automation could lead to mishaps or intentional misuse.