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Echo users may not feel secure after reading about the information that Amazon employees can access

Earlier this month, we told you that Amazon has team employees in Boston, Indonesia and Romania who listen to consumer recordings that interact with Alexa. Team members transcribe these recordings, add comments, and load the information into a program. The goal is to help the virtual personal assistant become more skilled when listening to and understanding of human commands. Today, Bloomberg reports that these employees can also access users' home addresses. Some team members may discover an Alexa user's geographic coordinates. With that information, the data can be entered into a third-party mapping program to detect the user's home address. Amazon said earlier that these employees and consultants could not get information that would allow them to know the name and address of each Alexa user whose recordings they reviewed. Amazon has since released a statement saying that among members of the Amazon Alexa Data Service team, only a limited number, have access to the tools that can help find the Alexa users' addresses. Amazon says those who have the ability to get the information need it to treat a small number of Alexa interactions. This is done to improve the performance of Amazon's virtual helper. "Access to internal tools is highly controlled and is only given to a limited number of employees who need these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small selection of interactions. Our policy strictly prohibits employees access to or use of customer data by for some other reason, and we…

Earlier this month, we told you that Amazon has team employees in Boston, Indonesia and Romania who listen to consumer recordings that interact with Alexa. Team members transcribe these recordings, add comments, and load the information into a program. The goal is to help the virtual personal assistant become more skilled when listening to and understanding of human commands. Today, Bloomberg reports that these employees can also access users’ home addresses.

Some team members may discover an Alexa user’s geographic coordinates. With that information, the data can be entered into a third-party mapping program to detect the user’s home address. Amazon said earlier that these employees and consultants could not get information that would allow them to know the name and address of each Alexa user whose recordings they reviewed.

Amazon has since released a statement saying that among members of the Amazon Alexa Data Service team, only a limited number, have access to the tools that can help find the Alexa users’ addresses. Amazon says those who have the ability to get the information need it to treat a small number of Alexa interactions. This is done to improve the performance of Amazon’s virtual helper.

Despite Amazon’s statement on the contrary, two anonymous Amazon told Bloomberg employees that until recently, the vast majority of Alexa Data Service team members had access to the tools needed to obtain customer addresses. In addition, the first time an Echo user gives Alexa a task, the Amazon used the internet’s internet address to get its approximate location. Now the company uses a customer’s delivery address as the default location for an Echo device.

Bloomberg saw an Alexa Data Services group member listening to the recording of an Echo user’s commands to Alexa. He pasted the length and latitude of the user into Google Maps. Suddenly, the employee’s computer screen showed a picture of the Echo user’s home along with his address.

Some question about whether Amazon really needs such data. Lindsey Barrett, a staff lawyer and teacher at Georgetown Laws Communications and Technology Clinic, says that some Amazon employees’ ability to access location data is a red flag. She noted that “Whenever anyone collects where you are, that means it can go to someone else who could find you when you didn’t want to be found.”

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