Report: Thousands of Amazon workers hired to listen to recordings from Alexa

Not only is Alexa always listening to Amazon Echo users. So are thousands of Amazon workers all over the world, according to a report from Bloomberg.

According to the report, workers listen to and transcribe recordings and send them back into Echo’s software to erase gaps in Alexa’s ability to understand speech.

Bloomberg reports the workers sign nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. They work nine hours per day, and each worker reviews as many as 1,000 clips per shift.

If a worker comes across personal data, such as banking information, they are directed to mark the clip as “critical data.”

In a statement to Bloomberg, Amazon stated:

“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously. We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order [to] improve the customer experience. For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone.

“We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it.”

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