INCREASINGLY IRRELEVANTLY pigeonholed e-tailer Amazon has quietly introduced a way of opting out of the programme which allows contractors to listen to and transcribe recordings made by Amazon Alexa devices.
As you may recall, it came to light earlier in the year that the three big names in voice assistant - Apple, Google and Amazon (sorry Microsoft, and what were you thinking Samsung) are all using written transcriptions of Alexa content. The argument is that they are totally anonymised and used only to hone voice recognition.
Either way, Amazon has already confirmed that it keeps files forever. And ever. And ever.
That hasn't stopped something of a backlash and we've already seen Google suspend the facility altogether in the European Union, whilst Apple has gone a stage further by suspending its own programme globally.
Amazon has gone a different route and without any fanfare, has added a toggle in its settings to allow users to opt-out of the process, which will remain in full swing.
Amazon will doubtless tell us very little about why it has decided to make this move, or whether any regulators have been in touch, but will certainly assure people that customer privacy means a lot to them.
And as if by magic: "We take customer privacy seriously and continuously review our practices and procedures," said a statement from Amazon. "We'll also be updating information we provide to customers to make our practices more clear."
There had been a toggle in the past, but it only opted you out of having your voice used in feature development - this is a much more thorough opt-out and actually specifies that you'll be opted out of (or into) recordings based on this setting.
It's thought that Samsung may have a similar programme in place for its own voice assistant Bixby, but nobody has ever used for long enough to find out for sure. μ
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