Amazon Alexa transcripts stay even after you delete voice records: Report

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated May 10 2019
Amazon Alexa transcripts stay even after you delete voice records: Report
HIGHLIGHTS

​Report claims Alexa transcripts stay even after voice records are deleted.

The transcripts are saved in Amazon servers.

Amazon says it deletes the text data from Alexa’s main system.

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When you ask queries from Amazon’s Alexa, the AI-powered virtual assistant stores them as voice recordings and saves a transcript of that audio command. You can delete those voice recordings, however, a report has claimed that the corresponding transcripts are never deleted and can be accessed by Amazon. It says that this is the reason users see text next to the recordings when you check Alexa dialogue history.

“Amazon lets you delete those voice recordings, giving you a false sense of privacy. But the company still has that data, just not as a sound bite. It keeps the text logs of the transcribed audio on its cloud servers, with no option for you to delete them,” CNET said in a report. Amazon says that it erases the text transcripts from Alexa's “main system,” and it is also working on removing them from other areas where the data can travel.

“When a customer deletes a voice recording, we also delete the corresponding text transcript associated with their account from our main Alexa systems and many subsystems, and have work underway to delete it from remaining subsystems,” an Amazon spokesperson was quoted as saying. Amazon Echo dominates the market with about 70 percent of the global market share. It nearest competitor is Google Home with nearly 24 percent share and the Apple HomePod is at the third spot with 6 percent.

Meanwhile, Google and Apple said they don't keep transcript data indefinitely. According to Google, both the audio and text entry is removed when a person deletes that data. Apple says that the voice recordings are never associated with a person or an account, and are tied to a random identifier that you can delete.

In a related news, a group of 19 consumer and public health advocates have filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission claiming that the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition was retaining children's data even after parents deleted the voice recordings. Reportedly, the data stored on Alexa's “Remember” feature was not deleted and parents had to call customer service to delete the profile. On this, Amazon said the Echo Dot Kids Edition is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

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