Alexa is always listening for her wake word, but that’s it.
Alexa is not spying on you
Alexa is always listening for her wake word (which is, of course, Alexa unless you have changed it to a custom Alexa wake word).
Alexa is not spying on and recording all of your private conversations.
It’s important to make the distinction between always listening and always recording. Alexa only starts recording after she hears her wake word.
You may wonder why Alexa needs to record you at all. Here’s why: in order to process what you have asked her for when you say “Alexa, do xyz” and give you an accurate response, she needs to send what you said to the Amazon cloud. That’s where the actual analysis that takes your voice recording’s sound waves and figures out a response happens.
So I really don’t need to worry that Alexa is always recording me?
No, you don’t. Here are the key points that make me comfortable with having Alexa in my home from a privacy standpoint:
#1. Alexa only records after she hears her wake word
One of the best things about your Alexa smart speaker is that Alexa is always listening. So you don’t have to walk over to to your Echo to press a button to get Alexa to do something. But she only starts recording when she hears her wake word.
#2. You know when Alexa is recording you because the blue ring on top of your Echo will light up
As soon as Alexa hears her wake word, she does two things: she starts recording and lights up the blue ring on your Echo. Alexa was designed to show you when she is recording.
What about when you wake up Alexa unintentionally? This happens all the time to most of us. In those instances, you might not be paying attention to your Echo and might not notice the blue ring. But at some point Alexa will give a response and pipe in with some piece of information that’s totally irrelevant since you didn’t mean to wake her in the first place. So you’ll know that she was recording and processing what you were just saying (and you can always delete it).
#3. The few reported Alexa privacy failures have come from highly improbable, random events
You may have seen this one in December or this one last May. The December incident was a caused by an Amazon employee’s one-off human error, while May’s resulted from an improbable series of events that seriously confused Alexa.
How to protect your Alexa privacy
Amazon does a great job of giving you control over what level of privacy you want. Check out VoiceBrew’s top 5 Alexa privacy tips so you can make the privacy decisions that are right for you.