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May 13, 2019

Paranoia to Continue: Alexa Transcripts Survive Deletion of Actual Voice Records

Last week, I compared the culture in China of acceptance of voice & AI to one of paranoia among many here in the US. The latest revelation that transcripts of your voice records in Alexa survive your deletion of the actual records will not help the situation. Here’s an excerpt from this C-Net article:

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. Amazon said it erases the text transcripts from Alexa’s “main system,” but is 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 said in an email.

The new finding comes as privacy concerns have reached a boiling point, with people scrutinizing the tech they use more than ever. People want privacy from tech giants, and are finding that the options companies offer are not really doing the trick. In April, Facebook admitted it still tracked people after they deactivated their accounts.