Busted: Thousands Of Amazon Employees Listening To Alexa Conversations


Amazon employs thousands of people to listen in on what people around the world are saying to their Alexa digital assistant, according to what is sure to be a Congressional hearing-inspiring report by Bloomberg, which cites seven people who have worked on the program.

While their job is to “help improve” NSAlexa – which powers the company’s line of Echo speakers – the team “listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners’ homes and offices,” which are then transcribed, annotated and fed back into the software in order to try and improve Alexa’s understanding of human speech for more successful interactions. In other words, humans are effectively helping to train Amazon’s algorithm.

In marketing materials Amazon says Alexa “lives in the cloud and is always getting smarter.” But like many software tools built to learn from experience, humans are doing some of the teaching. -Bloomberg

The listening team is comprised of part-time contractors and full-time Amazon employees based all over the world; including India, Romania, Boston and Costa Rica.

Listeners work nine hour shifts, with each reviewing as many as 1,000 audio clips per shift according to two employees from Amazon’s Bucharest office – located in the top three floors of the Romanian capital’s Globalworth building. The location “stands out amid the crumbling infrastructure” of the Pipera district and “bears no exterior sign advertising Amazon’s presence.”

While much of the work is boring (one worker said his job was to mine for accumulated voice data for specific phrases such as “Taylor Swift” – letting the system know that the searcher was looking for the artist), reviewers are also listening on people’s most personal moments.

Occasionally the listeners pick up things Echo owners likely would rather stay private: a woman singing badly off key in the shower, say, or a child screaming for help. The teams use internal chat rooms to share files when they need help parsing a muddled word—or come across an amusing recording. -Bloomberg

Occasionally Amazon listeners come across upsetting or possibly criminal recordings – such as two workers who say they listened in on what sounded like a sexual assault. 

According to the report, when things like this happen the workers will mention it in the internal chat room to “relieve stress.”

And while Amazon says that it has procedures to follow when workers hear distressing things, two of the Romania-based employees say they were told “it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere” when they requested guidance for such instances.

“We take the security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously,” said an Amazon spokesman in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

“We only annotate an extremely small sample of Alexa voice recordings in order improve the customer experience. For example, this information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone,” the statement continues. “We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow. All information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our control environment to protect it.”

That said, Amazon does not mention the fact that humans are listening to recordings of some of the conversations picked up by Alexa. Instead, they have a generic disclaimer in their FAQ that says “We use your requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems.”

What Amazon records

According to Amazon’s Alexa terms of use, the company collects and stores most of what you say to Alexa – including the geolocation of the product along with your voice instructions, reported CNBCTodd Haselton last November.

Your messages, communication requests (e.g., “Alexa, call Mom”), and related instructions are “Alexa interactions,” as described in the Alexa Terms of Use. Amazon processes and retains your Alexa Interactions and related information in the cloud in order to respond to your requests (e.g., “Send a message to Mom”), to provide additional functionality (e.g., speech to text transcription and vice versa), and to improve our services. -Amazon Terms of Use

Last May, an Amazon Echo recorded a conversation between a husband and wife, then sent it to one of the husband’s phone contacts. Amazon claims that during the conversation someone used a word that sounded like “Alexa,” which caused the device to begin recording.

“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa,’” said Amazon in a statement. “Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right’. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

The wife, Danielle, however said that the Echo never requested her permission to send the audio. “At first, my husband was like, ‘No, you didn’t,’” Danielle told KIRO7. “And he’s like, ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘Oh gosh, you really did!’”

Can you disable?

Alexa does allow people to stop sharing their voice recordings for the development of new features, while a screenshot reviewed by Bloomberg reveals that the recordings provided to Alexa’s listeners do not provide the full name or address of a user. It does, however, link the recording to an account number, the user’s first name, and the device’s serial number.

“You don’t necessarily think of another human listening to what you’re telling your smart speaker in the intimacy of your home,” said UMich professor Florian Schaub, who has researched privacy issues related to smart speakers. “I think we’ve been conditioned to the [assumption] that these machines are just doing magic machine learning. But the fact is there is still manual processing involved.

“Whether that’s a privacy concern or not depends on how cautious Amazon and other companies are in what type of information they have manually annotated, and how they present that information to someone,” added Schaub.

via Busted: Thousands Of Amazon Employees Listening To Alexa Conversations | Zero Hedge


Indonesia completes refarming of 800, 900 MHz frequencies – Business – The Jakarta Post

The Communications and Information Ministry has announced that it has completed the refarming of 800 and 900 hertz frequencies, giving customers faster speed for internet services on cellular devices.

The refarming process, which started on Feb. 25, will affect Telkomsel and Indosat Ooredoo customers.

“Customers can enjoy the best internet speed. The refarming can also enhance spectrum efficiency to make LTE (long-term evolution) expansion possible for up to 95 percent of the population,” Telkomsel network director Bob Apriawan said on Wednesday as quoted by kontan.co.id.

The ministry’s resources, information and equipment director general, Ismail, said the frequency refarming encouraged efficiency and optimization of the radio frequency spectrum.

“After the completion of the refarming, the 800 MHz and 900 MHz radio frequencies are in a contiguous position, allowing customers of cellular phones to receive better quality services,” Ismail said.

The refarming was carried out based on Communications and Information Ministerial Regulation No. 29/2019, which requires that all cellular operators refarm 800 and 900 MHz frequencies, particularly those that are non-contiguous.

With the refarming process finished, cellular users in urban areas can obtain traffic data, while those previously without 4G technology will have access to the technology, Ismail added. (bbn)

via Indonesia completes refarming of 800, 900 MHz frequencies – Business – The Jakarta Post

Millions Of Facebook Records Found On Amazon Cloud Servers | Zero Hedge

Facebook shares tumbled into the red after Bloomberg reported that user data is still showing up in places it shouldn’t.

As Bloomberg reports, researchers at UpGuard, a cybersecurity firm, found troves of user information hiding in plain sight, inadvertently posted publicly on Amazon.com’s cloud computing servers.

The discovery shows that a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed how unsecure and widely disseminated Facebook users’ information is online, companies that control that information at every step still haven’t done enough to seal up private data.

Coming just days after Zuckerberg urged the government to take over regulating his responsibilities and remove his accountabilities,Bloomberg notes that in one instance, Mexico City-based media company Cultura Colectiva openly stored 540 million records on Facebook users, including identification numbers, comments, reactions and account names.

The problem of accidental public storage could be more extensive than those two instances. UpGuard found 100,000 open Amazon-hosted databases for various types of data, some of which it expects aren’t supposed to be public.

“The public doesn’t realize yet that these high-level systems administrators and developers, the people that are custodians of this data, they are being either risky or lazy or cutting corners,” said Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at UpGuard.

“Not enough care is being put into the security side of big data.”

Read the full article on the tribulations over at lizardbook via Millions Of Facebook Records Found On Amazon Cloud Servers | Zero Hedge

S. Korea to launch world’s first national 5G networks | AFP

South Korea launches the world’s first fully-loaded 5G mobile networks Friday, a transformational leap that already has superpowers sparring for control of an innovation that could potentially change the day-to-day lives of billions of people.

The super fast communications heralded by fifth-generation wireless technology will ultimately underpin everything from toasters to telephones; from electric cars to power grids.

But while the South has won the race to be first to provide the user experience, that is only one part of a wider battle that has pit the United States against China and ensnared giants including Huawei.

Hyper-wired South Korea has long had a reputation for technical prowess, and Seoul has made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to stimulate stuttering economic growth.

The system will bring smartphones near-instantaneous connectivity — 20 times faster than the existing 4G — allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second.

In the same way that 3G enabled widespread mobile web access and 4G made new applications work ranging from social media to Uber, 5G will herald a new level of connectivity, empowered by speed.

It is crucial for the future development of devices ranging from self-driving vehicles that send data traffic to one another in real time, industrial robots, drones and other elements of the Internet of Things.

That makes it a vital part of the infrastructure of tomorrow, and the 5G standard is expected to bring about $565 billion (S$764 billion) in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.


But the implications have pitted Washington against Beijing in an increasingly bitter standoff.

The US has pressed its allies and major economies to avoid 5G solutions from Chinese-owned telecom giant Huawei, citing security risks that technological back doors could give Beijing access to 5G-connected utilities and other components.

But Chinese firms dominate 5G technology.

Huawei, the global leader, has registered 1,529 5G patents, according to data analysis firm IPlytics.

Combined with manufacturers ZTE and Oppo, plus the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology, Chinese entities own a total of 3,400 patents, it says — more than a third of the total.

South Korea comes next, with its companies holding 2,051 patents.

In contrast, US firms have 1,368 altogether, IPlytics said — 29 fewer than Finland’s Nokia alone.

All three of South Korea’s mobile networks — KT, SK Telecom and LG UPlus go live with their 5G services.

“5G’s hyper speed can connect one million devices within a one square kilometre zone simultaneously,” KT said in a report.

On the same day, Samsung Electronics will release the Galaxy S10 5G, the world’s first available smartphone using the tech, with rival LG following with the V50s two weeks later.


More than three million South Koreans will switch to 5G by the end of this year, predicted KT vice-president Lee Pil-jae.

Until now, no mobile networks have offered nationwide 5G access. In the US, hotspots in a few selected cities have offered 5G speeds but over wifi only, while Qatari firm Ooredoo says it offers 5G services in and around Doha, but does not have devices available to use them.

US network carrier Verizon will launch fifth-generation services for mobile users in Chicago and Minneapolis next week, with more than 30 cities due to follow this year.

Japan is also expected to roll out a limited deployment in 2019 before full services start in time for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

But cost is likely to be a barrier for user uptake initially, analysts say: the cheapest version of the new Galaxy handset will be 1.39 million won (S$1,623).

“While there are many cheap 4G smartphones under $300, Samsung’s 5G phones are well over $1,000, which could be a major minus point for cost-savvy consumers,” a KT representative told AFP.

None of South Korea’s three network operators would say how much they have invested in 5G — but Seoul’s economy minister Hong Nam-ki put it at at least $2.6 billion this year alone.

“If 5G is fully implemented,” he said, “it will greatly improve people’s lives”.


Apple iPad Air Review 2019| MobileTechReview

Lisa Gade reviews the 2019 iPad Air 3, Apple’s middle of the lineup 10.5” iPad with a wide gamut laminated Retina display, A12 Bionic CPU, 3GB RAM and Apple Pencil 1 support.

For those who want a current generation processor and high quality display, the Air 3 has definite appeal over the $329 iPad, yet it’s considerably less expensive than the 2018 iPad Pro 11” model.

The iPad as usual is available with WiFi-only and WiFi+ 4G LTE cellular. It has Apple’s keyboard connector, a headphone jack and Lightning port. Pricing starts at $499 for the 64GB model.

Titlw Photo by Medhat Dawoud on Unsplash

Facebook moderates opposition party’s Facebook accounts in the lead up to elections in India.

Not content with just harvesting everyone’s personal data for resale, Facebook recently caved to the incumbent government of India’s requests and has decided that it needs to moderate the discourse in the lead up to the election. According to a report by Reuters

– Facebook Inc said on Monday it was removing 687 pages and accounts linked to India’s main opposition Congress party, just days before voting begins in a general election, because of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on the social media platform.

The announcement marks a rare action from Facebook against a prominent political party in a country where it has more than 300 million users, the highest in the world.

Facebook said its investigation found that individuals used fake accounts and joined various groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement. Their posts included local news and criticism of political opponents such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Facebook said.

“While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC (Indian National Congress) IT Cell,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a statement.

Gleicher added that Facebook was removing accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted.

India’s staggered election, scheduled to begin on April 11, will end on May 19.

Two of the samples shared by Facebook were of posts that criticized Modi’s initiatives and called for supporting the Congress party and its president, Rahul Gandhi.

The social media giant also said it was removing 103 pages, groups and accounts, also for inauthentic behavior, as part of a network which originated in Pakistan and was linked to employees of the Inter-Service Public Relations department of the Pakistani military.

Facebook has faced increasing pressure from authorities around the world, including the Indian government, to ensure its platform is not abused for political gains or to spread misinformation, especially ahead of elections.

Facebook has toughened up its rules governing political advertisements in India and many other countries to increase transparency.

Last week, Facebook removed a social media network in the Philippines and took the unusual step of linking it to a businessman who said he had managed the president’s online election campaign in 2016. It has taken similar actions recently against accounts in Russia and Iran.

Separately, Facebook said it had also removed another 227 pages and 94 accounts in India for violating its policies against spam and misrepresentation

Like when has a political party ever misrepresented information on policy ahead of an election? if anything this type of behavior is actually typical and should be expected. Ed

China calls on New Zealand to provide ‘fair’ investment environment

Ardern, on a one-day visit to China, said before meeting Li that she hoped to have a dialogue with Beijing about New Zealand’s intelligence agency’s decision to reject the bid.

Ties with China have been tense under Ardern’s government which has openly raised concerns about Beijing’s growing influence in the South Pacific.

China postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch in February.

“At present, China-New Zealand ties overall are developing in a stable manner,” Li told Ardern at the start of their meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the people, noting New Zealand’s desire for good relations.

“China also places a high importance on relations with New Zealand,” he said.

“And we hope that we can aspire to the greatest common denominator regarding each others’ interests and that when each sides businesses invest in each other’s businesses, they can enjoy a fair, transparent, convenient environment.”

Ardern told Li that she wanted to underline the importance her country placed on its relationship with China. In 2008, New Zealand became the first Western country to sign a free trade agreement with China.

“I reiterated to Premier Li that New Zealand welcomes all high quality foreign investment that will bring productive economic growth to our country,” she said in a statement following the meeting.

“We discussed the FTA upgrade, and agreed to hold the next round of negotiations soon and to make joint efforts towards reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”

China is New Zealand’s largest goods export partner.

Talking to reporters before the Li meeting, Ardern said she would set out the process New Zealand followed in the Huawei decision, and point out that there had been no political or diplomatic influence in the matter. She said media reports that suggest Huawei was banned in New Zealand were not true.

The interview with reporters was streamed on New Zealand’s 1NEWS.

Ardern has acknowledged there were complexities in the relationship with China, but has dismissed concerns of a rift with New Zealand’s largest trading partner. The trip has been trimmed down to a one-day visit in the wake of an attack on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 that killed 50 people.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called in a letter to Arden last week for her to publicly express concern about the situation in China’s far Western region of Xinjiang when she meets Chinese leaders.

China has faced growing international opprobrium over a controversial de-radicalization program in the heavily Muslim populated Xinjiang, where critics say China is running internment camps. China strongly denies this and calls them vocational training centers, defending its need to de-radicalize a part of the country where the government has blamed Islamist extremists and separatists for multiple attacks in which hundreds have died in recent years.

Before her meeting with Li, Ardern said New Zealand had raised the issue of Uighur Muslims in the past but did not say if it would be discussed.

“Human rights issues are things that New Zealand routinely raises in our bi laterals with China,” she said. There was no mention of human rights in Ardern’s later statement.

New Zealand is a 5 eyes nation and just like Australia and I doubt very much New Zealand will want China inside it’s racks.  Ed


Sony to close smartphone plant in China, shift production to Thailand

Sony Corp will close its smartphone plant in Beijing in the next few days, a company spokesman said, as the Japanese electronics giant aims to cut costs in the loss-making business.

Sony will shift production to its plant in Thailand in a bid to halve costs and turn the smartphone business profitable in the year from April 2020, the spokesman said on Thursday. He said the decision was not related to Sino-U.S. trade frictions.

Sony’s smartphone business is one of its few weak spots and is bracing for a loss of 95 billion yen ($863 million) for the financial year ending this month.

Some analysts say Sony should sell the business amid acute price competition with Asian rivals. The company has a global market share of less than one percent, shipping just 6.5 million units this financial year mainly for Japan and Europe.

But Sony has said it has no intention to sell as it expects smartphones to be central to technologies for fifth-generation wireless networks, where cars and various devices would be connected.

Among Japanese electronics companies, Fujitsu Ltd last year sold its mobile phone business to investment fund Polaris Capital Group.

That left just three Japanese smartphone makers – Sony, Sharp Corp and Kyocera Corp – in a global market dominated by Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and cheaper Chinese rivals.

Samsung late last year said it would cease operations at one of its mobile phone plants in China, as its sales in the world’s biggest smartphone market slumped.

(Reporting by Pei Li in BEIJING and Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO; Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Article 13 – Dark day for internet freedom’: EU lawmakers criticized over copyright reform

The biggest backwards step since the internet began’, and ‘one of the EU’s darkest hours’ – that’s how critics, who include whistleblower Ed Snowden & world wide web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee, are describing a new European law on internet copyright.

Poor all your love an attention toward Axel Voss German MEP fucktard who brain birthed this abomination Article 13…


Huawei punches back at FCC attack – YouTube

RT America’s Sara Montes de Oca joins Rick Sanchez to discuss the latest in Huawei’s fight against the US government ban on their products. Critics of the ban point out that Huawei is no less secure than any other corporation and that Huawei’s competition will help speed the deployment of 5G in the US. We also hear from former NSA whistleblower and top cyber-security expert Bill Binney who worked at the NSA for more than 30 years and is convinced that the agency is no longer protecting the US from cyber threats.

via Huawei punches back at FCC attack – YouTube

Huawei’s new P30 Pro flagship smartphone launches in Paris alongside visit from President Xi + Unboxing and battery test Videos via TechMagnet

Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, presented its new flagship phone in Paris on Tuesday with the hope of making further gains in Europe, a region where its other products could face in-depth scrutiny for security reasons.

Huawei’s P30 Pro, which has four rear cameras – including a so-called “time of flight” camera that helps its artificial intelligence create better exposures – will aim to take on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Apple’s iPhone X.

The phone has a new light sensor that detects yellow rather than green, which Huawei said would significantly boost light absorption to create better results, even in near darkness.

The P30 Pro, Huawei’s P30 premium version, also uses electromagnetism to vibrate the screen to create a speaker when the device is held up to the face, minimizing any sound problems when taking a telephone call, added the company.

An executive at Huawei’s product launch in Paris said the P30 would go on sale with a starting price of 799 euros ($902), while the P30 Pro would have a starting price of 999 euros.

The unveiling of Huawei’s smartphone in Paris coincides with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the French capital, where President Emmanuel Macron held a meeting along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss climate and trade.

Huawei, which also makes telecoms network equipment, has been under much international scrutiny following U.S. allegations that the Chinese giant’s products could be used by Beijing for spying.

The company has strongly rejected the allegations and earlier this month sued the U.S. government over the issue.

Before his Paris visit, Xi stopped in Monaco, the tiny sovereign enclave on the Mediterranean, to mark the principality’s decision last year to agree a deal with Huawei to develop its 5G network, prompting concerns among European officials that other countries could follow suit.

The European Commission is poised to urge EU countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to the next generation of mobile technology, or 5G, but will ignore U.S. calls to ban Huawei, people familiar with the matter said last week.

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in LONDON; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Louise Heavens)

Three landmarks in Denpasar have been fitted with QR codes, 20 more to be rolled out in 2019

To make it easier for tourists to know the history of a site location visited in Denpasar, the Denpasar City Tourism Service is installing  QR Codes at prominent sites across Denpasar city. .

This is so that people who visit without guides can research for themselves the origin or history and information about the sites visited.

Currently there are three sites equipped with QR Code, namely at Inna Bali Hotel, Jalan Veteran Denpasar, Badung Market and Patung Catur Muka.


barcode cellphone close up coded
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The head of the Denpasar City Tourism Office , Dezire Mulyani said to the tribune Bali that the project started in December 2018.

How to use it is to simply scan the QR Code that is on each site or destination using any QR Code application.

“When you want to find out about the visited destination, just scan the bar using a cellphone,” Dezire said according to Tribune Bali on Sunday (03/24/2019) afternoon.

For when visiting the  Inna Hotel, the QR code is placed to the right of the entrance to the lobby.

QRCodes at the Catur Muka Statue have not been installed even though they are finished. This is because his party is still confused about appropriate placement and branding

While at Badung Market, the QR Code is installed at five points.

“In essence, later by scanning the QR Code  the visitors at Badung Market can find out everything they need to know at a glimpse, including its history,” he explained.

In 2019 there are 20 sites locations in Denpasar that will be equipped with a QR Code functionality.

In the near future all the main sites will be equipped with a QR Code, namely the Bali Museum, Maospahit Temple, Puri Jero Kuta, and the Fingerprint Painting Museum.

Currently in Denpasar there are around 75 sites earmarked to feature the QR Code system. 

No indication in the article if the system will feature multi language support for international travelers.

This information was discovered at the Bali Tribune under,


The grammar and structure of the original article was pretty terrible.  I have re written it to make sense for English readers. -EdTBNW