Amazon has revealed some recordings made by its constantly-eavesdropping AI personal assistant Alexa are never really gone from the company’s servers, even if the user manually deletes them. Third parties get to keep them, too.
Not only are records and voice logs stored on Amazon servers generally, but even when a user explicitly deletes a particular recording, they can only be assured the files are removed from the company’s “primary storage systems,” Amazon admitted last week in a report to Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) after he wrote to the company with questions about its data handling and privacy practices.
“We have an ongoing effort to assure those records do not remain in any of Alexa’s other storage systems” after a user deletes a recording and Amazon removes it from their primary storage systems, the company’s VP of Public Policy Brian Huseman addressed, acknowledging that servers “may still retain other records of customers’ Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to the customer’s request.”
And customers wouldn’t want it any other way, Huseman claimed.
Developers of third-party “skills” – tasks performed through Alexa like ordering a car, having food delivered, and even intra-Amazon requests like streaming music – “obviously need to keep a record of the transaction,” as well.