Is it safe to use Amazon's Alexa?

Episode 1478 (45:01)

Julie from Santa Clarita, CA
Amazon Echo

Julie wants to get an Echo, but her husband is worried about privacy and eavesdropping. Are they safe? Leo says it's about as safe as a smartphone. Anything that has a microphone that's connected or broadcasts with a radio can be listened to quite easily. Alexa is always listening, that's true, but it's only listening for the wake word "Alexa," and then whatever follows that for up to 2 minutes. It won't widen the scope until the magic word is uttered. Then it sends the request to the home office for an answer. Can it incidentally record? Leo says it will only do that when it thinks it hears the trigger word. It's largely safe and secure.

Could the government hack it? Well, the Patriot Act does give them the power to do so, but there are legal protections which require a warrant. If she's worried about the government, there may be a bigger issue to worry about.