If you've ever received an ad for something just minutes after talking about it, now you know why: Amazon has confirmed that it uses voice recordings from Alexa to target users with ads.
A report released last week concluded that Amazon, as well as 41 other third party advertisers, collect voice data through Echo smart speakers and use this to serve you ads online.
What's more, researchers found that this is not 'clearly disclosed' to users, who are often unaware that their data is being used in this way.
Amazon confirmed the report in comments to The Verge, admitting that voice data is used for targeted ads.
The authors of the report, who audited Alexa to measure how much advertising data it collects, said: "The convenience of voice input has contributed to the rising popularity of smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo, but it has also introduced several unique privacy threats.
"Many of these privacy issues stem from the fact that smart speakers record audio from their environment and potentially share this data with other parties over the Internet—even when they should not."
They argue that Amazon's voice data is used to 'infer user interests' and "serve targeted ads on-platform (Echo devices) as well as off-platform (web)." What's more, this data attracts "30X higher ad bids from advertisers", making it very valuable.
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Amazon spokesperson Lauren Raemhild told The Verge: "Similar to what you'd experience if you made a purchase on Amazon.com or requested a song through Amazon Music, if you ask Alexa to order paper towels or to play a song on Amazon Music, the record of that purchase or song play may inform relevant ads shown on Amazon or other sites where Amazon places ads.
She added: "We do not share our customers' personal information to third-party skills without the customer's consent," and that Amazon allows Alexa users to opt-out of any ad targeting.
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