Amazon admits its staff hear Echo chat
Amazon has admitted its staff listen to some recorded requests on Echo smart speakers in people's homes.
The Echo device has become the best-selling smart speaker in Ireland with tens of thousands sold here and millions bought worldwide.
Amazon says the manual listening is done only for "quality control" purposes to improve its systems' understanding of competing pronunciations.
But it has emerged staff are told to ignore distressed noises, such as assaults or cries for help.
In a statement, Amazon said recorded voices cannot be linked by Amazon staff to customer accounts.
"We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system," said the company statement.
"Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.
"All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it."
However, some workers say that they hear disturbing things in the recordings.
According to a Bloomberg report on the issue, a number of Amazon staff tasked with listening to the recordings said they picked up what they thought was a sexual assault.
Otherwise, much of the content listened to is "mundane".