Alexa Controlled Microwaves: More Privacy Concerns?

By: Nolan Hale

Imagine not knowing how long to cook some type of food, let’s say a potato. You are so busy doing something and you do not want to look it up on your phone or computer. So, you put the potato in the microwave and say, “Alexa, please heat up this potato”. The rest is up to the microwave.

Amazon has recently made this possible in creating a voice-controlled microwave incorporating the “Alexa” technology. One must simply tell the microwave what is in the microwave, “Alexa” will have a conversation with you regarding the weight of the food, and the microwave will heat it up. Additionally, Amazon created a voice-activated clock that can set reminders and timers. However, issues regarding privacy remain in the new voice-controlled microwave.

In May 2018, a woman said her Amazon “Alexa” recorded her private conversation and sent it to a random contact. She felt invaded when a person from 176 miles away received audio files of recordings from inside her house. While Amazon stated that was an extremely rare occasion, Amazon does not even seem to be addressing it. On September 20, 2018, Amazon held a press event introducing the Alexa-powered microwave and Alexa gadget in cars. During the press event, the Amazon executive did not mention any privacy concerns in their products.

There are likely more products coming out that can be voice activated like ovens, televisions, and possibly every appliance in the house. There will likely be remote ways to activate things in your home through voice-command technology. Amazon needs to address these privacy concerns because as technology continues to grow, privacy concerns are bound to as well.

Citations:

Heather Kelly, Amazon wants Alexa everywhere, CNN (last visited Sep. 22, 2018), https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/22/technology/alexa-everywhere/index.html.

Jason Del Rey, Amazon’s blockbuster Alexa event made zero mention of privacy concerns–and that may say more about us than about them, Recode (last visited Sep 20, 2018), https://www.recode.net/2018/9/20/17883538/amazon-alexa-microwave-privacy-security.

Gary Horcher, Woman says her Amazon device recorded private conversation, sent out to random contact, Kiro 7 (last visited May 25, 2018), https://www.kiro7.com/www.kiro7.com/news/local/woman-says-her-amazon-device-recorded-private-conversation-sent-it-out-to-random-contact/755507974.