Amazon Alexa devices store all the audio they collect when listening.

How your gadgets can reveal secret infidelity


Your smart TV or AI-powered speaker can spot when someone is having an affair.

That’s according to one leading privacy experts, who says the snooping gadgets harvest enough data that they can work out peoples’ secret relationships.

The dangers of “smart” tech in the home were discussed at a recent science conference in Washington. A former US government data adviser warned that taped conversations and location data could be used to expose cheaters.

They have the potential to track saucy conversations between secret lovers, or show when occupants of a building share a bedroom on the sly.

“Smart meters can tell you whether an individual is at home and what appliances are used,” said Duke University’s Professor Ashwin Machanavajjhala.

“Smart light bulbs and Wi-Fi access points can reveal occupancy. Social relationships between building occupants can be inferred by analysing sensor logs.

“Smart TVs and voice assistants can pick up living room chatter, some of which may be shared with third parties.”

Smart speaker adoption is growing rapidly in Australia, with Google, Amazon and Apple all offering versions of the tech. But despite the speakers flying off the shelves, we still don’t fully know what tech companies do with the data they collect.

Recorded chats and locations could be harvested for research, stored in the cloud and used to help target adverts or sold to third parties.

Amazon Alexa devices store all the audio they collect when listening.

Amazon Alexa devices store all the audio they collect when listening.Source:Supplied

Professor Machanavajjhala was speaking at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, one of the world’s biggest science conferences. He said he refuses to have a smart speaker in his home for fear of privacy violations.

“I’m waiting for privacy protections to come in. We need to know what is being collected about us, whether or not we have anything to hide,” he said.

Issues remain about who your data is shared with once it hits the cloud, he added.

“Smart devices move data to the cloud so they can be analysed using sophisticated algorithms.

“Once data is on the cloud, users lose control over it. There is little transparency about who it is shared with.”

An Amazon spokesperson told The Sun that customers can delete voice recordings at any time.

“At Amazon customer trust is of the utmost importance, and we take privacy seriously. By default, Echo devices are designed to only capture audio after it detects the wake word.

“Only after the wake word is detected does audio get streamed to the cloud, and the stream closes immediately after Alexa processes a customer request.

“No audio is stored or saved on the device. Customers can also review and delete voice recordings in the Alexa App or by visiting”

Apple declined to comment, while Google did not respond to our request.

Facebook has had its own smart speaker in the works for years, but its release has been delayed by the tidal wave of data privacy controversies that hit the company last year.

Amazon Echos had problems over Christmas because so many people were logging into the smart speakers they got as gifts.

Popular voice assistants like Alexa and Siri can be controlled using ‘silent’ commands hidden in music.

In the hands of hackers, the tricks could be used by to steal money from your bank account and unlock smart locks to enter your home, researchers warned last year.

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