Amazon launches Alexa for Residential, targeting landlords

Via The Verge

Amazon recently announced Alexa for Residential, a service for landlords and property managers that would allow them to turn any apartment into an Alexa-enabled one for prospective tenants.

The Issue

Alexa doesn’t have the best privacy record and it’s hard to know whether tenants might have less privacy with these Alexa-enabled homes and apartments. The service is designed for landlords to provide “custom voice experiences” for their residents and no Alexa or Amazon account is needed.

Amazon has also ensured that voice recordings are deleted on a daily basis and that property managers won’t have access to any tenant data. If a tenant does have an Alexa account, they can link theirs to the devices tied to their unit, and their accounts’ privacy settings will override any existing ones. Once a tenant moves out, the devices will be reset, deleting any data associated with the tenant.

Amazon is rolling out this program slowly. The areas that will be served include Colorado, Florida, and Maryland, though its availability is expected to expand.

Your move

If you have an Alexa, take some time to check your privacy settings if you haven’t already. You may want to opt-out of human review (which would allow Amazon workers to listen to your voice recordings to improve Alexa’s accuracy), and you may want to set a time frame to ensure your recordings are deleted. These settings will apply if you ever move to one of these Alexa-enabled residencies and you link it to your existing account.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to move, you may want to ensure that any new technology in place, whether it’s a smart lock, a biometric authenticator, or even a furnished apartment that comes with a smart TV, isn’t leaking your data. You can talk to your landlord and ask for their and the technology’s privacy policy so you can be clear about what information is being collected, how it’s stored, and whether it’s secure. You can also do this if a landlord introduces new technology in a residence. If it really makes you uncomfortable, you can push back and stop the landlord from using the proposed technology.

To learn more about Amazon’s new residential Alexa service, its previous privacy issues, and how tenants have fought back against new, potentially harmful tech, read The Verge’s article.

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