Is Alexa Safe to Use?

Amazon Alexa privacy concerns (and what can you do about them)

Amazon's virtual assistant allows you to control your smart home with voice commands, but is Alexa safe to use? Learn about Alexa privacy concerns and how to secure your Alexa device.

Information in this article applies to all devices that use the Alexa voice assistant, including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV, and Amazon Fire tablets.

How Safe Is Alexa?

Alexa employs artificial intelligence to improve voice recognition and cater to the user. Most of this is accomplished through machine learning, but Amazon also has a human quality-control team that reviews user recordings to ensure Alexa's accuracy. It's also theoretically possible for hackers to access your voice recordings.

How to Protect Your Privacy With Alexa

In 2019, Amazon introduced new security policies and features to protect the privacy of Alexa users. These improvements include stronger limitations on the types of data human reviewers have access to. Users can even opt out of voice recording and human reviews. You can also now use the following voice commands:

  • "Alexa, delete everything I said today."
  • "Alexa, tell me what you heard."
  • "Alexa, why did you do that?"

You should keep your Echo devices away from windows so no one outside can overhear your conversations with Alexa. For Alexa devices that travel with you, such as Echo Frames, Echo Loop, and Echo Buds, you should turn them off when you're not using them. It's best to disable the microphone and internet connection on any Alexa device that's not in use.

The Amazon Echo Show 8 includes a privacy shutter for the camera, so you never have to worry about Alexa or anyone else spying on you.

How to Auto Delete Alexa Voice Recording

While it's possible to manually delete your Alexa history, you can also set voice recordings to delete automatically after a period of time. You can even opt out of voice recording altogether:

  1. Open the Alexa app on your mobile device and tap the Hamburger Menu icon in the top-left corner.

    Tap the menu icon in the Alexa app.
  2. Tap Settings in the drop-down menu.

    Tap Settings in the drop-down menu.
  3. Scroll down and tap Alexa Privacy.

    Scroll down and tap Alexa Privacy.
  4. Tap Manage Your Alexa Data.

  5. Tap Off next to Automatically delete recordings.

  6. Choose how long you want Alexa to keep your recording, then tap Confirm.

  7. Tap the toggle switch beside Use voice recordings to improve Amazon services and develop new features if you want to opt out of voice recordings.

    Alexa app privacy settings

    Disabling this feature limits Alexa's voice recognition capabilities.

Other Alexa Privacy Concerns

Alexa and other virtual assistants are always listening so they can respond to your voice commands. Recording doesn't begin until after you say one of the wake words—"Alexa," "Amazon," "Computer," "Echo," or "Ziggy"—but it's easy to activate the virtual assistant by accident. Fortunately, you can change Alexa's wake word to avoid accidentally turning her on. Any device that Alexa can sync with can also collect information about you, so you should take steps to prevent your smart home from getting hacked.

Police agencies can request data collected by companies like Amazon to investigate potential crimes. For instance, Amazon has collaborated with law enforcement by proving video footage captured by the Ring Doorbell smart security system.

Amazon claims that it doesn't share customer data with advertisers, but this could change.

How to Protect Your Child's Privacy From Alexa

Amazon recently introduced Alexa Communications for Kids, a parental control feature for the Echo Dot Kids Edition and the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition. Parents now have complete control over who their kids can talk to on their Echo devices by white-listing specific contacts. Fire tablets made for kids also allow parents to set restrictions on apps and internet use.

If you have Amazon FreeTime, you can monitor your child's history and set up restrictions from the Amazon Parent Dashboard.

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