EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Smart-home devices can compromise your privacy. Former Amazon executive Robert Frederick even admits to turning Alexa off, due to concerns that the company was listening in. Need to regain some privacy in your home? For Amazon’s Alexa, follow these three tips:

Turn-off the ‘drop-in’ app:

  1. Alexa’s ‘drop-in’ feature allows predetermined contacts to simply start speaking out of a device’s speaker. No need for the device-owner to “answer” a call. Despite the user-friendly functionality, someone who ‘drops-in’ can hear everything happening in your home. Because you may want to discuss private matters out of friends’ earshot, it’s best to turn off your ‘drop-in’ feature unless you specifically want to use it.To turn it off, open the Alexa app, tap ‘devices’, select the intended device, then tap ‘communications’. This will enable you to flip the ‘drop-in’ switch to ‘off’ or to limit it to specific home devices.

Eliminate ‘Hunches’ from your suite of apps:

  1. The ‘Hunches’ tool allows the Alexa device to ask you follow-up questions after a device interaction. The algorithms then use your answers to make helpful suggestions for your home. For example, it may suggest a new way to use timers, or ask you if you’d like to lock your doors before bed.However, the Hunches tool can be a nuisance when you’re in the middle of a professional meeting, as you don’t want to have to ask your smart-home device to please stop speaking.In order to halt functionality for the Hunches tool, open the Alexa app, tap ‘more’ and then ‘settings’, and then ‘Hunches’. Toggle the feature to off mode.

Turn off voice recording for research purposes:  

  1. The latest findings indicate that Amazon still automatically opts Alexa users into its program to use voice recordings for research purposes. Contractors for the company could indeed be listening to you, and in the past, they shared entertaining clips with one another (although the data was anonymized).To disable this feature, open the Alexa app, tap ‘more’ then ‘settings,’ then ‘Alexa privacy’. Afterwards, a new page will pop up, and you can tap ‘Manage Your Alexa Data’. Scroll down, and switch ‘Use of Voice Recordings’ to ‘off’ mode. Confirm the decision, per Amazon’s next popup screen.

    For more features that you might want to ditch right now, check out this CNET article.