An Amazon customer in Germany under the European Union data protection law called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requested the company to send all the data it stored on him but little did he know he was about to get his hands on a trove of 1,700 audio recordings of a stranger speaking in their home.
The customer who hasn’t been identified told c’t, a German technology website that he had never used any of Amazon’s voice-activated assistants and recordings belonged to a customer having a private conversation in his home.
“I was very surprised about that because I don’t use Amazon Alexa, let alone have an Alexa-enabled device,” the customer told the magazine. “So I randomly listened to some of these audio files and could not recognize any of the voices.”
According to the magazine who heard the content of audio recordings confirmed that it included a man’s voice from inside his home while some of the recordings also had a female voice, sounds of alarm clocks and conversations about family’s private life and work.
The customer then reported the incident to Amazon but didn’t receive any response, yet audio files were later deleted from the link that was provided by Amazon, Reuters reported. However, it was too late since the customer had already downloaded all the files on their system.
Amazon, on the other hand, has acknowledged the privacy breach and said that it was an “isolated incident” and “an unfortunate case that resulted from a human error.” The company issued a statement saying that it “resolved the issue with the two customers involved and have taken steps to further improve our processes. We were also in touch on a precautionary basis with the relevant regulatory authorities.”
This is not the first time when Amazon has put its customer’s privacy at risk. In May this year, Amazon Echo sent a couple’s conversation recordings to the husband’s employee. In the most recent incident, Amazon also exposed names and email addresses of its customers on its website.
If you are using Amazon Echo don’t expect your private conversation will remain private.