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Third-Party Developers May Gain Access To Your Alexa Audio Recordings

13 July 2017, 9:33 am EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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Amazon could grant developers access to transcripts of Alexa user recordings. Reports say the move is the company’s way of staying competitive in the smart speaker race, especially with Apple and Google in the pack.  ( Amazon )

Amazon is trying to decide whether it should let third-party developers access transcripts of Alexa audio recordings made by Alexa-powered devices, a new report from The Information says.

Amazon To Give Developers Alexa Transcripts

The point of granting that kind of access is for Amazon to entice developers to focus on making apps for Alexa, giving them access to precious data that could help make the voice platform better going forward.

The Information adds that letting developers get a hold of Alexa transcripts will seemingly push Amazon further in the competitive smart speaker race, which includes recent competitors such as Apple and Google with their HomePod and Home, respectively.

Amazon has yet to comment on its plans to share data generated from Alexa audio recordings and, by extension, the inherent security issues associated with granting developers firsthand access to such documents. But it did tell The Verge exactly what type of information it shares to developers whenever people use Alexa Skills.

"[W]e provide the developer the information they need to process your request. We do not share customer identifiable information to third-party skills without the customer's consent. We do not share audio recordings with developers."

Suppose Amazon does grant Alexa developers that form of access, it'll certainly be a tough balancing act between growing its voice platform and facing user privacy and security issues. Thus far, developers only have access to non-identifying information, such as the frequency of using a particular Skill, the number of times one speaks to the Alexa-powered device, and location data.

The Information adds that a number of developers have heard from Amazon reps regarding being granted access to more telling documents such as transcripts, though how and how much remain a question. That said, the report also says that some developers already have access to full data.

Why Amazon Is Focusing On Growing Its Voice Assistant

Alexa has become the fastest-growing voice platform in the market, deftly surpassing Google and Microsoft.

It's no wonder why Amazon would focus on its proprietary voice assistant to improve its overall voice platform — Alexa now has over 15,000 Skills, and the company will soon begin a series of sessions called Dev Days, teaching developers the ins and outs of Alexa development.

But by giving developers more detailed information about user recordings, the company also has to inevitably deal with potential privacy concerns at a time when mere mentions of privacy and security raise red flags, especially considering the fact that Amazon has become more of a tech firm than an online retail company.

Time will tell if Amazon pushes through with the alleged plans, but it's not going to be a smooth ride, that's for certain.

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