This week, it was reported that Amazon employs thousands of individuals to listen to conversations recorded on Alexa devices. Amazon explained that its employees listen to and transcribe conversations recorded only after the device is triggered by the user’s unique “wake work” and only for the purpose of helping Alexa better understand commands. Further, Amazon stated that the employees listening to the audio clips do not have access to the customer’s full name or address, although they do have access to the first name, account number, and the device’s serial number.
This type of confusion and surprise is why many consumer privacy advocates are pushing for laws that require clear and concise privacy policies. Many privacy policies are long, dense, and full of legal or technical jargon that make if difficult – if not impossible – for consumers to intelligently consent to the collection, use, and dissemination of private information. Internet-connected devices create a lot of convenience and efficiency in modern life and the prevalence of the “Internet of Things” is only growing. As more consumers become aware of the vast amounts of their data that is being collected, the demand for clear and concise privacy policies will increase. For businesses, easy to understand privacy policies can help foster consumer trust and also help them avoid significant liability for unfair and deceptive trade practices (next time on the blog).