There have been a few concerning news stories about the way Amazon Echo handles user privacy. Device users were so worried, that they turned to resources like lawmanaging for answers. Over time, the more serious privacy issues of an Amazon Echo have been addressed, and the major ones have become myths. There are still some minor issues that remain, and that is where users should prioritize their focus.
Are There Privacy Issues with The Device?
If you don’t customize the device and its settings, then yes. The Echo is useful because it listens and learns your commands. This learning feature is combined with location information, shopping information, and voice recognition. Saying that there are privacy issues with the Amazon Echo is like saying that water is wet – the lack of privacy is a feature, not a bug.
But there are a few things about the way that it collects information that goes out of bounds. Some of these have been addressed by Amazon with the new version of Echo devices. It is especially important to mention how privacy is a concern when using an Amazon Echo in a professional setting. There are a lot of features that are on by default that should be turned off. This is something that most users aren’t informed about, and usually never check.
What Has Amazon Done to Protect Users?
On the hardware front, Amazon has added a camera to the Echo Show. This allows video chatting and motion-related gestures. Recent additions to the Amazon Echo Show lineup have included a switch to cover the camera. It is similar to what you see on high-end laptops and was a welcome addition to the Amazon family.
With software, they have made it much easier for normal users to access advanced functions. You simply log in to your Amazon account and choose what type of information to limit. Similar to Microsoft’s Cortana, limiting information will protect your privacy at the cost of making Alexa less functional. This is optional, and a better choice than not being able to customize it at all.
How to Protect Yourself
Consumers should always upgrade to the latest version of the Amazon Echo. It features quality of life fixes, bug fixes, and better privacy measures. When a new version of the Echo is available, Amazon usually offers a ‘trade up’ option for current device users. This lowers the overall cost of the upgrade and even opens up monthly payment options where applicable.
Another way to protect your privacy is by implementing a parental block on each device. Children can inadvertently make your Amazon Echo less secure by changing settings put in place to protect your privacy. The dashboard makes setting up parental controls easily, and they carry across multiple devices.
You can own an Alexa powered product without having your privacy destroyed. But with so many different Amazon Echo models, users have to question if their privacy protection is created equal. Everyone has a right to privacy, and it should never come at the cost of convenience.