CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - Assume anything you say around an Amazon Echo device is being heard hundreds of miles away.
Amazon has revealed thousands of employees, in several countries, are listening to what people say when they talk near Alexa. Amazon says it uses those conversations to improve Alexa's understanding of human speech.
"Think about it, Amazon has employees, contract employees, not even full time employees who may be making minimum wage and they're in Ukraine, they're in Bucharest. They're hearing me put in my social security number or when I'm calling an airline and giving them my credit card number," said Chicago Kent College of Law professor Lori Andrews.
She has literally written the book on privacy concerns in this age of technology. It's titled "I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy."
"This is the tip of the iceberg in fact, all of these helpful devices are actually surveillance devices that are sending our information off in ways that we might not anticipate," Andrews said.
Chicago Kent College of Law studied hundreds of medical apps, stored on consumer's devices and found 80 percent of the time that those apps were sharing intimate medical information with marketers.
"So you may lose a job, not get insurance and not realize it's because your very private health information went out there," she said.
Andrews also said apps that don't need to use your smartphone's microphone will use it to listen to you and collect marketing data. The microphone feature can be disabled for smartphone apps in your device's settings panel.
To disable Amazon's Echo from picking up conversations, unplug the device. Amazon recommends you reach out to them in the Alexa app by tapping on Help and Feedback, then asking for a representative to call you. Ask the representative to disable the messaging feature on your home device.