Mozilla exec tells big data committee he was ‘shocked’ by what Alexa recorded

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Amazon

OTTAWA — A security executive for the internet browser company Mozilla says he was shocked by the recordings of his family that were collected and retained by Amazon’s popular Alexa voice-activated interactive speaker.

Alan Davidson, Mozilla’s vice-president of global policy, trust and security, says the Amazon Echo device is a wonderful product but when he recently examined what his family’s had recorded and stored, he found it included conversations among his young children.

He says none of that may be wrong or unlawful, but he says it highlights the problems with how consumers actively give consent to tech companies.

Davidson says internet companies need to do more to give customers more “granular” consent options for how specific pieces of personal information are collected and used by high-tech companies.

Mark Ryland, the chief security officer for Amazon Web Services, says Amazon makes it very clear that consent is part of the Alexa experience, and that customers can delete any collected data if they like.

Davidson and Ryland were testifying in Ottawa before the international grand committee on big data, privacy and democracy, which includes politicians from Canada, Britain, and several other countries.