Researchers find how Amazon Echo Derives Data from Interactions
The Executive Headlines
According to the latest report, Amazon uses voice data from its Amazon Echo devices to serve targeted ads on its own platforms and the web.
Data Derived from Amazon Echo
Titled “Your Echoes are Heard: Tracking, Profiling, and Ad Targeting in the Amazon Smart Speaker Ecosystem,” the report concludes that Amazon and third parties (including advertising and tracking services) collect data from your interactions with Alexa through Amazon Echo smart speakers and share it with as many as 41 advertising partners. That data is then used to infer user interests and serve targeted ads on-platform (Amazon Echo devices) as well as off-platform (web). It also concludes that this type of data is in hot demand, leading to 30X higher ad bids from advertisers.
The report has been produced by researchers affiliated with the University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and Northeastern University and says the ways Amazon does this is inconsistent with its privacy policies.
Opting out of Privacy Infringement
Amazon confirmed that it does use voice data from Alexa interactions to inform relevant ads shown on Amazon or other sites where Amazon places ads. “Similar to what you’d experience if you made a purchase on Amazon.com or requested a song through Amazon Music, if you ask Alexa to order paper towels or to play a song on Amazon Music, the record of that purchase or song play may inform relevant ads shown on Amazon or other sites where Amazon places ads.” Amazon spokesperson Lauren Raemhild said in an email.
For Alexa devices, there are additional privacy controls managed through Settings > Alexa Privacy in the Alexa app or at amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings. Here, you can see and manage your voice recordings as well as manage the permissions granted to skills. To manage third-party skills advertising preferences, you will need to go to their app or website.