New Amazon Smart Home Assistant Echo Look Raises Some Privacy Questions


Amazon’s new home assistant raised some questions regarding privacy

Amazon released a new smart home device, Echo Look, which has an incorporated camera and microphone ready to assist and listen to the commands of the user. However, such a device comes with some serious privacy concern which all users should be aware of. After all, any home assisting device comes with certain violations of privacy.

All such devices have microphones which are set to always listen to what happens around them, so as to be ready to respond to the command of the user. However, Amazon introduced a camera to the Echo Look device. Thus, the company was questioned regarding the privacy issues their assistant might be posing.

Echo Look’s microphone waits for the wake word to trigger it

First of all, they told users that, if they feel vulnerable under the ‘eyes’ of the device, they should avoid purchasing one or maybe put it in a place where they do not feel watched. Also, they added that the system gets activated only when it hears the wake word.

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Thus, the system is programmed to react only at the wake word. After that, the device starts recording what the user says and then sends the information to the cloud. According to Amazon, users should not be afraid that their privacy is in danger since only they can decide when the microphone is recording.

A blue light would signal when the microphone and camera are in use. Also, you can select an option which would disable them, and a red light would be turn on to warn you that they are not in use. If you do not feel safe, you can always resort to the final measure of unplugging the device.

Amazon assured users that there are ways to combat these privacy issues

To make sure they settle all the debates on the privacy issues, Amazon made the button which displays the blue or the red light quite big. Also, they keep saying that the camera is always off and it turns on only when you activate it via voice command. However, the microphone still remains ‘eavesdropping’ for possible commands.

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After the camera captures images and videos, they are sent to the cloud, and the user can choose to delete this content when he wants to. However, others might have access to these images. For instance, Echo Look has a special feature called Style Check, which will display your images to authorized personnel which would provide you with information.

Amazon assured the users that the access to these images is restricted, and not everybody is allowed to view them. However, they might take the liberty to display ads based on this cloud content, but they said that they do not reveal any private information to third party companies.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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