A new article from TheVerge explains how Amazon utilizes Alexa voice data to provide personalized adverts to each user and how the data is shared with 41 different advertising partners.
Alexa users may have expected this data usage because it has already been reported that Alexa gathers more data than other Smart Assistant technology. The article highlighted that “Our smart devices are listening. Whether it’s personally identifiable information, location data, voice recordings, or shopping habits, our smart assistants know far more than we realize.”
A team of researchers who conducted the study from the University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and Northeastern University called it: “Your Echos are Heard: Tracking, Profiling, and Ad Targeting in the Amazon Smart Speaker Ecosystem.”
According to the research, the data provided with Amazon’s advertising partners was processed transcriptions rather than raw audio data.It appears that they have just accumulated certain terms that will be useful for them to offer specific ads whenever you access Amazon or browse the web.
Amazon Spokesperson Lauren Raemhild told TheVerge:
“Similar to what you’d experience if you made a purchase on Amazon.com or requested a song through Amazon Music, if you ask Alexa to order paper towels or to play a song on Amazon Music, the record of that purchase or song play may inform relevant ads shown on Amazon or other sites where Amazon places ads.”
Raemhild did clarify and ensure that the information being gathered is secure and would never be sold.
“We are not in the business of selling our customers’ personal information and we do not share Alexa requests with advertising networks.””