Technology company Amazon recently disclosed that it keeps hold of user data gathered through its AI assistant devices. According to The Verge, this comes after Senator Chris Coons requested information pertaining to the company’s audio and transcript retention practice.
In a letter to Senator Chris Coons, Amazon provided a detailed explanation of its Alexa and Echo service. The message also discusses how it works, including its privacy-related protocols. The letter corroborated some of the claims made against its practices.
Through the response, Amazon vice president Brian Huseman said that the company store users’ voice recordings and transcriptions. However, the company says that it also keeps these data until users delete them.
However, questions have been raised regarding the removal of the transcribed version of the voice recordings. In an examination by CNET, the media outlet claims that Amazon gives a “false sense of privacy.” The report said that the company keeps the data not as an audio file, but as a text log.
The Verge remarked that the company keeps information collected through the user’s Alexa or Echo interactions. According to the report, Amazon has to remove the info from different sections of its storage system. The company also has the ability to “choose to hold on to the data without telling the user.”
Huseman said that Amazon is undertaking continuous work to guarantee the removal of such data from “Alexa’s other storage systems.” The Verge interpreted this to mean that the text logs remain in separate storage systems even after deletion.
The letter admits that Amazon may retain information such as actions taken by Alexa in response to the user. This means that any requests made by the user that warrants action is recorded by the service.
To explain the necessity of such actions, Huseman emphasized that Alexa and Echo are powered by artificial intelligence. The machine learning system makes use of the data to improve its services. This includes adapting to users’ speech patterns and natural language usage.
In response to the letter, Coons said that the possibility of the company retaining the data still remains.
In past months, the company went under due to reports revealing that employees have access to voice and text recordings. Customers are concerned that employees can “piece together information” about their personal lives.
The tech firm responded that humans review and annotate this info to improve Alexa’s system.