Amazon mumbles into its coffee when asked: Will you give app devs people's Alexa chats?

Cloud giant worryingly coy about its intentions

Alexa photo via Shutterstock

Amazon is apparently considering a plan to provide app developers with transcripts of people's conversations with their Alexa boxes.

We're told the Bezos Bunch is mulling whether to change their developer policy to give the third-party coders who create Alexa "skills" app software the raw transcripts of what users say to Alexa.

As it stands, transcripts are not part of the non-identifiable data that Amazon today offers developers.

The thinking is that, by giving devs access to the actual words and phrases used by customers, they will be able to tweak the tools to better recognize and respond to commands, making the Alexa service as a whole better.

That would be of benefit to Amazon in its efforts to stave off the likes of Google Home, but would also pose major privacy concerns for customers, who would rightfully be taken aback at the idea that their personal conversations with the always-listening devices could be handed to third parties.

Privacy concerns with Alexa are nothing new. Last year, an Echo device was sought as a witness for eavesdropping on a suspected murder, and in May when Alexa calling features were enabled, users complained about the lack of any sort of screening feature for incoming calls.

This, perhaps, is why Amazon is being weirdly coy on the matter. When asked to confirm or deny this week's rumors, an Amazon spokesperson fed The Register the following canned statement:

When you use a skill, we provide the developer the information they need to process your request. We do not share customer identifiable information to third party skills without the customer's consent.

When asked whether the policy could be changed in the near future, Amazon declined to comment further. ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017