Amazon keeps your Alexa audio files even after your delete it

The issue of data privacy in big tech continues.

Amazon made the confession that it doesn’t always delete Alexa and Echo user’s stored data. That’s even after the user chooses to remove all audio files from their account. So your voice interactions are still in Amazon’s database.

The revelation was made by the e-commerce company in a letter to the United States Senator Chris Coons. Sen. Coons questioned Amazon regarding how long it stores audio recordings and transcripts from voice interactions. The company responded in a letter dated June 28th and published last Wednesday.

In the letter that Amazon wrote to Senator Coons, it read: “We retain customers’ voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them.”

However, the tech company says that some of the transcripts or date from the transcripts aren’t removed. One reason is that doing so requires them to scrub the data from various locations of its data storage systems around the globe. In some cases, the company chooses to keep the date without informing the user.

The letter written by Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy, Brian Huseman, read:

“However, we may still retain other records of customers’ Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to the customer’s request. And when a customer interacts with an Alexa skill, that skill developer may also retain
records of the interaction.”

With regards to the anonymity of the user’s identity in relation to the transcripts, Amazon’s answer might not be what you want to hear. Regarding this issue the letter read:

“…we allow customers to review the transcripts of their Alexa interactions as part of
our Voice History feature, which requires us to keep the transcripts associated with the customer’s account.”

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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