Amazon.com Inc. will let Alexa users opt-out of human review of their voice recordings, following criticism that the program violated customers’ privacy.

A new policy took that according to reports took effect last week allows customers, through an option in the menu of the smartphone app, to remove their recordings from those that could be analyzed by Amazon employees and contract workers, according to a company spokesperson.

It follows similar moves by Apple Inc. and Google.

Bloomberg first reported in April that Amazon had a team of thousands of workers around the world listening to Alexa audio requests with the goal of improving the software. Their tasks include listening to and transcribing voice recordings. Some of the workers reviewing customer recordings had access to certain personal data, including users’ first names and their location.

 

At the time, Amazon and people familiar with the program said only a small sample of recordings were manually reviewed. Bloomberg reported that similar human review is used for Alphabet Inc.’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Recent news reports elaborated on the extent of those companies’ review programs.

 

“We take customer privacy seriously and continuously review our practices and procedures,” the Amazon spokeswoman wrote in an email Friday. “We’ll also be updating information we provide to customers to make our practices more clear.”

(Bloomberg)