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Amazon Echo secretly recorded family chat and sent audio to a contact

A family is claiming their Amazon Echo device recorded a conversation, before sending the audio file to a random contact, without permission.

Speaking to KIRO7, a woman identifying herself only as Danielle, said the family received a phone call urging them to unplug all of their Alexa-based devices. On the other end of the line was an employee of her husband, who had received audio recordings from within the family’s home.

“We unplugged all of them, and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said (via Washington Post).

“At first, my husband was, like, ‘No, you didn’t!’ And the [recipient of the message] said, ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘Oh, gosh, you really did hear us.'”

Related: Best Alexa Skills

The Amazon Echo range is capable of recording and sending voice messages to contacts, but it requires a specific set of commands that are very unlikely to be replicated in regular speech. The Echo device in question hadn’t notified it was recording audio and hadn’t made any rumblings about transmitting it to a third-party, the family claims.

It’s not entirely clear which Echo model was responsible for clandestine recording and forwarding the conversation, but the report says a number of them were networked throughout the home.

‘Extremely rare’

Amazon says it investigated the family’s claim and calls the incident an “extremely rare occurrence.” Calls with Amazon customer services also backed up the family’s account.

“Amazon takes privacy very seriously,” the firm said in a statement. “We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”

Danielle added: “I felt invaded. A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.'”

Have you experienced a similar issue with your Amazon Echo? Does this make you think twice about having the device’s microphone always turned on? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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