Take control of your privacy with Alexa and the Amazon Echo

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It seems that every day we learn about a new privacy scandal or data security lapse, and Amazon has certainly not been immune to such mishaps. One way that the company is trying to address these types of issues and allay public concern is through its Privacy Hub. Following is a brief description of what the Privacy Hub is, and how to use it.

How does Amazon address user privacy?

Amazon’s Privacy Hub website focuses on five areas in which Echo devices help manage, protect, and control privacy settings.

  • Wake Word – Amazon has always claimed that the Echo devices only start listening to users (and recording them) after they use the wake word “Alexa.” Users can also change this to a few other options such as “Echo,” “Amazon,” or “Computer.”
  • Indicators – Echo devices have indicator lights that illuminate when the device is active, as well as speakers that emit responses or audible tones when a request is made.
  • Microphone Controls – Users can manually deactivate the microphone on Echo devices, which will then display a red light signifying that the device is not listening.
  • Camera Controls – Echo devices with cameras like the Echo Show, Echo Show 5, Echo Spot, and Echo Look, allow users to turn off the cameras digitally. The Echo Show 5 also has a physical shutter that can be used to cover the camera.
  • Manage Voice Recordings – Users can view, hear, and delete voice recordings through the web or app, or by telling their Alexa device to “delete everything I said today.”

How to use the Privacy Hub

Echo and Alexa device users can access the Privacy Hub to review voice history, review smart alert history, manage smart home devices history, manage skill permissions, and manage how their data improves Alexa from the web or through the Amazon Alexa app on their iOS or Android device.

Once they are logged into their Alexa account on the web or app, users can navigate through these sections. They can see what information Amazon has access to, change permissions and settings, and delete any data that they no longer wish for Amazon to save.

The following steps illustrate how to navigate the Privacy Hub through the app, though the process is similar on the web:

Make sure that you are logged into your Amazon account in the Alexa app, open the app, and click on the top left to access the menu. Click on Settings at the bottom of the menu list.

Next, click on Alexa Privacy mid-way through the Settings menu options.

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You are now in the Alexa Privacy section. From here, you can click on various options to make granular changes to your privacy settings:

  • Review Voice History: See, hear, and delete your voice recordings.
  • Review Smart Alert History: Review alarms and security alerts detected by Alexa
  • Manage Smart Home Devices History: See the status and use of third-party connected devices.
  • Manage Skill Permissions: Control what information Alexa skills have access to
  • Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa: Grant or revoke permission for Amazon to use your data and recordings to improve Alexa’s machine learning and intelligence.

Now that you can take control of your Amazon privacy settings, we hope that you feel more empowered and secure in dealing with your Echo and Alexa-enabled devices. We are encouraged to see companies like Amazon offering more accessible and transparent privacy controls to their users. We hope they continue to support users in this area.

Protect this house

As detailed in our review of the Echo Show 5, this device provides the best balance yet of features to help you better understand and take control of your privacy and security with Echo and Alexa.

THE Echo to get for Privacy

Amazon Echo Show 5

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$90 at Amazon

The new Amazon Echo Show 5 has a physical mute switch to prevent Alexa from hearing you, as well as a physical shutter to prevent Alexa from seeing you. It also features privacy settings in the touchscreen menus that allow you to control your data.

Security Squad

After you have followed the steps to understand your digital privacy options better and have made changes to your settings and preferences through Amazon’s Privacy Hub, you may want to enhance the overall experience by having Alexa help to secure your home as well. We recommend these items to complement your home security suite.

Amazon Echo Show 5 Stand

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$20 at Amazon

Get this great stand to better display your new Amazon Echo Show 5 and to be able to enjoy it from more angles and in more places. Having this flexibility will make it easier for you to monitor your digital and physical security, particularly with Alexa-enabled security accessories.

OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Speaker

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$26 at Amazon

Spread the sound around from your Echo Show 5 to other parts of your house so that you can better hear alarms, timers, and other important notifications.

Ring Stick Up Cam

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$180 at Amazon

The Ring Stick Up Cam operates on battery power and works with your Alexa device to extend your home security outside of the house. You can also control the device and view the video feeds from your Echo Show 5!