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The German parliament has been warned by its official eggheads that Amazon's Alexa digital assistant may not be legal – because it stores voice recordings and overhears things it is not supposed to.
The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag was asked to take a look at how Alexa works and how the device fits within the country's current privacy laws. It concluded, in a report made public this week, that there is ample evidence that the Amazon device routinely records things it is not supposed to and that the internet giant stores those recordings far longer than it needs to. That raises some serious legal questions, the dossier notes.
Gathering - Information - Users - Voices - Agreement
While the gathering of information using users' voices is legally covered by the initial agreement that buyers make when they set up the Amazon machine, it is not at all clear that that agreement then covers people who are recorded by mistake, or other people that enter the same space as the device and are routinely recorded without having given any form of consent.
Those people – which the reports notes will include children – may not even know there is a device recording them. And children in particular may unwittingly reveal a lot of personal information that an adult would not, especially since many kids can't type queries into a computer and so will use their voice to ask questions.
Report - PDF - Cases - People - Case
The report [PDF] references several cases where people have been wrongly recorded – including a case where a man received a recording of a totally different couple, recordings being cited in a murder trial,...
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