A recent study published by Arxiv reveals that Amazon uses Alexa voice data to show targeted ads. It sheds light on how the user’s voice data is used for targeted ads. The research also says that Amazon shares this data with third-party advertisers.
What does research reveal about Alexa Voice Data?
Researchers affiliated with the University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and Northeastern University conducted this study about Alexa Voice Data. The findings confirm that Amazon collects voice data and uses it to comprehend the user’s interests and shape a buying persona.
After that, Amazon uses the Alexa Voice Data to serve targeted and personalized ads to the users. Moreover, it also shares this type of data with 41 advertisers. The study also claims that advertisers are willing to pay 30 times the average price for Alexa voice data from Amazon.
How does it affect the customers?
The Verge contacted Amazon to understand the process behind this data collection technique. Amazon did agree that they collect and use Alexa Voice Data from users. But the company branded it as an exercise to make the shopping experience highly personalized to the users.
A spokesperson claimed that Amazon only uses processed data and not raw data. So, all the conversations that you make in the presence of Alexa are mostly safe. Moreover, the Amazon spokesperson dismissed the claim that Amazon shared the Alexa Voice Data with third parties.
According to her, Amazon never indulges in sharing the data with third-party advertisers or developers. Moreover, she said that the study’s findings were mere speculations, and Amazon prioritizes preserving user data.
The study by Umar Iqbal, a postdoctoral researcher, and his team showcases how Amazon flouted its privacy policies by using the Voice Data of users. It created target personas for their research to find out how exactly Amazon collected and used this data. It also revealed that ads are served to users outside the Echo ecosystem, so cross-platform tracking is also on the table.
Amazon on collecting Alexa data
Amazon reached out to us after we published this story. The company spokesperson declines any claims of Amazon sharing Alexa data with advertisers. The company also quashes claims of the 30 times price bid for voice data. Here’s an excerpt from the statement.
We give customers the option to opt out of these kinds of services if they like, at any time. As far as this specific research is concerned, it’s not accurate because it’s based on inaccurate assumptions of how Alexa works. For example, we do not sell customers’ personal information and we do not share Alexa requests with advertising networks, even though the report suggests that we do.Amazon spokesperson
You can opt-out of the voice data collection by Amazon anytime by going to the privacy settings. However, Amazon should make this an opt-in feature like Apple did with their ATT measures on the iPhone. What do you think of the data collection by Amazon? Share your opinions in the comments section.