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Amazon team that monitors Alexa can access user locations: report

Click to play video: 'Amazon staff can listen to private conversations through Alexa' Amazon staff can listen to private conversations through Alexa
WATCH: Amazon staff can listen to conversations through Alexa. – Apr 12, 2019

Amazon listens in on a small number of requests to Alexa — and some employees can access the location associated with those conversations, according to a new report.

Bloomberg reported that a group of Amazon staff who monitor a fraction of the recordings captured by the voice-activated assistant have the ability to view location data in some cases.

Such information could allow them to pinpoint the address of the smart speaker — and bring them closer to identifying the user.

READ MORE: Alexa, are you alone? Amazon staff may be listening to your recordings

The Bloomberg report cited five Amazon employees who were granted anonymity. Two expressed concerns over the potential for Alexa users to be identified.

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Location data, which is gathered by many tech companies and services, allows Alexa to give better answers to questions that hinge on the user’s whereabouts.

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When asked about access to location data and user privacy on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Amazon said, “Access to internal tools is highly controlled, and is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions.”

Amazon said it forbids employees from accessing customer information for other purposes, and performs audits to limit employee access to user data wherever possible.

READ MORE: Alexa recorded one family’s conversations and sent them to a friend, without them knowing

The company acknowledged that customers’ conversations with Alexa could potentially be heard by staff earlier this month after Bloomberg reported on the existence of the team that transcribes and analyzes samples of Alexa recordings.

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Amazon has stressed that an “extremely small” number of interactions are monitored randomly, and this data is used to improve the voice-activated assistant’s speech recognition technology.

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— With files from Maham Abedi, Global News

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