the surveillance

Information provided to speech recognition technologies AI’s such as Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri and Amazon Alexa can be a valuable digital marketing tool to develop predictive analytics and targeted advertising.

However, if we are unaware of exactly what and when data is being gathered and used, this raises a point for ethical concern. 

Apart from its basic functions, a key purpose of the Amazon Alexa is a marketing tool for other Amazon services such as their personalised advertising as well as Amazon Music and Amazon Videos. 

image by Amazon

“Amazon’s goal with data collection is to build a 360-degree view of you and your buying habits”

…but before you succumb to the ease of a digital assistant, take a look at these horror stories of Amazon Alexa gone wrong!

  1. Under the European Union’s General Data Protection regulations, a German man requested a copy of all the information Amazon had collected on him. What he got back was the Amazon Alexa recordings of another family! The recordings enabled him to identify the family’s first names, last names and even their location!
  2. A warrant gives law enforcement the ability to obtain recordings and in a fascinating turn of events, an Amazon Alexa is being treated as a key witness in a murder trial!
  3. An Amazon Alexa has ‘misheard’ an instruction which resulted in a couple’s conversation being recorded and sent to one of their contacts. 

With the amount of data that devices such as the Amazon Alexa collect, there is a huge potential that companies collecting this data may exchange it (for huge sums of money) with marketers for purposes of targeted advertising.

Top tip: read the privacy policies!

What are your thoughts, is the convenience of the Amazon Alexa worth the risk of your privacy and security?

If you want to delve further into the ethical pros and cons of voice recognition software and digital marketing, check out this article from The Guardian!

8 thoughts on “the surveillance

  1. I’ve been wary of products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home even before reading this! As cool the technology is, is it that hard to just google what the weather is ourselves? Another ethical concern I’ve heard about these products is that virtual assistants are almost always voiced as female, reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your insightful comments Julia! I have to agree with you, I find that products like the Amazon Alexa only bring marginal convenience for the majority of able-bodied people and therefore isn’t really worth the risk!

      The use of a default female voice is a very important point – I will be doing a whole post soon on issues of diversity in digital marketing which you may be interested in!


  2. It’s quite daunting to know that they are always listening even before you say “hey siri”, “ok google” or whatever else it may be.. those examples you have included in your blog post definitely has made me feel a bit uneasy. I will definitely be checking out that article you have linked. I need to read up on this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So Yikes! There is actually a conference against Google regarding this issue that I came to know recently. These certainly are really iffy issues these days. I would love to know what this situation comes about in the near future

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s