The language assistant Alexa von Amazon brings the Scientific Service of the Bundestag risks for minors and uninvolved visitors. Children could disclose personal information or use their voice to retrieve content that is not suitable for minors, according to a report. Also, the question arises as to what happens to visitors who do not know that the software is recording – even though the recording usually took only a few seconds.
The Scientific Service noted that Amazon is well served by its obligation to provide information when collecting data from users. “How uninvolved third parties and minors can be excluded from the data collection” remains open.
Also, it is unclear, “what other purposes Amazon could use his data in the future,” it says in the report on. Even data theft from the Amazon cloud cannot be excluded. Due to the mass of information stored there, “this could be particularly sensitive to Alexa’s users,” the Scientific Service warns.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior does not feel responsible in the matter. “The use of language assistants involves data processing by non-public bodies,” a spokesperson said since the EU data protection regulation leaves the national legislature virtually no regulatory latitude.
Identification of individual users technically not possible
Digital voice assistants such as Amazon’s echo speakers using Apple’s Alexa or Siri software can answer questions, play specific music, order groceries, and perform other tasks. According to a recent study, they are particularly often used in families. The Amazon software only sends voice data when the user pronounces an activation word. You can choose from the terms Alexa, Computer, Echo or Amazon.
Amazon recently introduced Alexa’s users to the ability to set up a personal voice profile with the “Alexa, Learn My Voice” command. However, the voice profiles are only used, according to an Amazon spokesman, “to improve the individual user experience.” For example, the Computer, Play Music command will play different tracks for different profiles.
Locking the device for children or housemates do not allow the new voice recognition. “An unequivocal biometric identification, which would be a prerequisite for blocking individual profiles, or deactivating the voice recording of individual users, does not take place via voice profiles,” the spokesman said.