Amazon Smart Thermostat

Warnung: *Datenschutz ist in diesem Produkt nicht inbegriffen

Amazon teamed up with Honeywell to create their smart thermostat. And you guessed it, Alexa controls almost everything once you pair it with another Alexa-controlled device in your home. There is no microphone or speaker built into the thermostat, so you'll need an Echo Dot or similar or the Alexa app to use voice control. Once set up, Alexa takes over. It will adjust the temperature to suit your preferences. And it has Hunches! Yes, Hunches. Once you enable Thermostat Hunches, Alexa will have a hunch you're not home or a hunch you're asleep and adjust the thermostat accordingly. If Alexa has a hunch you're asleep and turns the thermostat down when you're really binge-watching Netflix for 8 hours, it's a good thing you can just say, "Hey Alexa, turn the heat back up!"

Was könnte passieren, wenn etwas schiefgeht?

Amazon proudly states they are "not in the business of selling your personal information to others." True. But, Amazon doesn’t need to sell your personal information to others when they have their own retail and advertising juggernaut to use your data to sell you more stuff. Because Amazon is in the business of selling you more stuff. And it’s not just Amazon hoping to sell you stuff. Amazon has a whole program for others to sell you stuff on on their sites too. And those sellers get to use that data Amazon collects on you to target you with the stuff they want to sell. So, while Amazon might not be in the business of selling your personal information, they are in the business of collecting as much of your personal information as they can, then selling access to that personal information to others to target you with ads to sell you more stuff.

And to do this, Amazon likes to collect an enormous amount of data on you. Things like: records of your shopping habits, Alexa search requests, the TV shows you watch and when you watch them, the music you stream, the podcasts you listen to, when you turn your lights on and off, when you lock your doors, identifiers such as your name, address, phone numbers, or IP address, your age, gender, your location, audio and visual information like those Alexa-requests or photos you take, the names and numbers of people listed in your contacts. The list goes on and on and on.

And what do they do with all that personal information they collect on you? Well, they use it to target you with advertising, of course. Lots and lots of advertising. They do say they don’t use information that personally identifies you to display interest-based ads (of course, we have to trust them on this, which, given their track record, might not be a wise thing to do). They also use your personal information to identify your preferences and personalize products and services to keep you using those products and services as much as possible. And they say they can share that personal information with a number of third parties.

And when we say a number, we don’t exactly know how many third parties because Amazon doesn’t share that information. We must assume it’s a lot of third parties because they say they can share your data with everyone from all the companies they use to provide third party services. That means the companies that do things like help them with marketing, manage credit risk, analyze data, send mail and email, and more. Then there’s the third parties that offer services, products, apps, and Alexa skills through Amazon Services. And then there’s the business affiliates and other companies Amazon buys that could get access to your data too. Given that Amazon is a vast empire -- think Ring, Blink, Eero, Whole Foods, and beyond -- that’s potentially a lot of places your data could end up.

Let’s talk for a minute about Alexa itself. Amazon’s AI that’s built into everything from your Echo Pop smart speaker to your headphones to your remote control comes with its own set of questions and concerns. Amazon does make it possible to automatically delete voice recordings immediately after they are processed. That's a nice feature after the controversy around human reviewers listening in to Alexa voice recordings. However, Amazon says when you delete your voice recordings, they still can keep data of the interactions those recordings triggered. So, if you buy a pregnancy test through Amazon Alexa, Amazon won't forget you bought that pregnancy test just because you ask them to delete the voice recording of that purchase. That record of the purchase is data they have on you going forward and may use to target you with ads for more stuff.

And then there are Alexa Skills, those little apps you use to interact with Alexa. These Skills can be developed by just about anyone with the, uhm, skill. And with too many of the Skills, third-party privacy policies are misleading, incomplete, or simply nonexistent, according to one recent study. When your data is processed by an Alexa Skill, deleting your voice recordings doesn’t delete the data the developer of that Skill collects on you. With over 100,000 Alexa Skills out there, many of them developed by third parties, now your data is floating around in places you might never have imagined.

Oh, let’s not forget Amazon’s terrible, awful, no-good track record at protecting and respecting their customers' data. So far in 2023 alone, Amazon has been been charged by the FTC in the US for violating children's privacy laws by keeping kids voice recordings and location data for years and undermining parent's deletion requests of their kids data. This resulted in Amazon agreeing to pay a $25 million penalty. Then Amazon got sued by the FTC for enrolling people in Amazon Prime without their consent and then making it way too hard to cancel the subscription. Amazon also had to settle with the FTC again for $5,8 million for poor privacy and security in their Ring cameras that let employees spy on customers through the cameras. Shoot, last year we here at *Privacy Not Included found a security vulnerability in Ring cameras and reported to Amazon to fix. They, so far as we can tell, have done nothing to fix this security issue. All this and then in September, 2023 the FTC and 17 US state Attorneys General sued Amazon for "illegally maintaining monopoly power."

That's all just in 2023 alone. If you look back further, you'll find more Amazon issues. There’s the Amazon employee who was caught stealing the personal information of over 100 million CapitolOne customers. And that’s not the only time Amazon employees with access to lots of customer data were caught leaking customers personal information. It’s happened quite a few times, actually. And then there’s the Alexa security bug that opened the door for hackers to potentially access users personal information and even their conversation history. These are some of the known privacy and security issues Amazon has had (there could be more unknown ones as well). And we get it, Amazon is a huge company with many products and employees and it’s impossible to secure everything 100% of the time. But that’s the point. When you collect such a vast amount of personal information on people, you’ve got to be super, duper, extra careful to secure it everywhere, all the time. Amazon has shown they can’t always do that.

So, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, if you happen to order that pregnancy test through Alexa, Amazon now knows you might be pregnant. Then comes the ads for baby clothes, diapers, cribs, and more. And then tragedy strikes and you lose your pregnancy. To cope you buy wine from Whole Foods. Amazon could now assume you’re no longer pregnant. But they don’t know about this miscarriage, they just know that you were likely pregnant and now likely not. Setting aside the scary post-Roe vs Wade world we live in now where this information could be used by law enforcement, think of the targeted advertising you could get from companies trying to sell you more stuff to deal with your lost pregnancy, get pregnant again, or other ads you don’t need to see while trying to cope with this tragedy. Uhg. So yeah, while Amazon doesn't sell your personal information, they sure do use the heck out of it to target you with more stuff to buy. Is this creepy? Well, with so much data floating around in so many places, yeah, Amazon’s Smart Thermostat used with Alexa can feel pretty creepy.

One more note on Amazon from a privacy researcher’s point of view. Trying to read through Amazon’s crazy network of privacy policies, privacy FAQs, privacy statements, privacy notices, and privacy documentation for their vast empire is a nightmare. There’s so many documents that link to other documents that link back even more documents that understanding and making sense of Amazon’s actual privacy practices feels almost impossible. We wonder if this is by design, to confuse us all so we just give up? Or, if maybe even Amazon’s own employees possibly don’t know and understand the vast network of privacy policies and documentation they have living all over the place? Regardless, this privacy researcher would love to see Amazon do better when it comes to making their privacy policies accessible to the consumers they impact.

Tipps zu Ihrem Schutz

  • Manage your preferences for third parties and reset your Alexa Advertising IDs, by visiting Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Skill Permissions and Ad Preferences in the Alexa app and Echo Show devices.
  • Switch off interest-based ads delivered by Amazon on Alexa. You can manage this setting at Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data in the Alexa app and Echo Show devices.
  • Manage your Alexa privacy settings
  • Turn on "Do Not Send Voice Recordings"
  • Turn the microphone off when you do not need it
  • Regularly delete your voice history or set an auto-deletion of the old voice data
  • Minimize usage of Alexa Skills to only the most trusted ones
  • When using Amazon Skills, be mindful that they are not operating under Amazon's privacy policy. Better not share sensitive data with Skills' developers.
  • Set up Anonymous Mode when using the app to protect your data
  • Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
  • Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
  • Keep your app regularly updated
  • Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
  • Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
  • When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
  • mobile

Kann es mich ausspionieren? Information

Kamera

Gerät: Nein

App: Ja

Mikrofon

Gerät: Nein

App: Ja

Verfolgt den Standort

Gerät: Ja

App: Ja

Was kann zur Registrierung verwendet werden?

Welche Daten sammelt das Unternehmen?

Wie nutzt das Unternehmen die Daten?

We ding this product for sharing personal data including geolocation, age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected classifications; and combining data about you with data it receives from third parties.

Amazon.com Privacy Notice

"Examples of information we receive from other sources include:
<...>
- account information, purchase or redemption information, and page-view information from some merchants with which we operate co-branded businesses or for which we provide technical, fulfillment, advertising, or other services;
- information about your interactions with products and services offered by our subsidiaries;
- search results and links, including paid listings (such as Sponsored Links);
- information about internet-connected devices and services linked with Alexa; and
- credit history information from credit bureaus, which we use to help prevent and detect fraud and to offer certain credit or financial services to some customers."

"Advertising. We use your personal information to display interest-based ads for features, products, and services that might be of interest to you. We do not use information that personally identifies you to display interest-based ads. To learn more, please read our Interest-Based Ads notice."

"Third-Party Advertisers and Links to Other Websites: Amazon Services may include third-party advertising and links to other websites and apps. Third-party advertising partners may collect information about you when you interact with their content, advertising, and services. For more information about third-party advertising at Amazon, including interest-based ads, please read our Interest-Based Ads notice."

"Use of Third-Party Advertising Services: We provide ad companies with information that allows them to serve you with more useful and relevant Amazon ads and to measure their effectiveness. We never share your name or other information that directly identifies you when we do this. Instead, we use an advertising identifier like a cookie, a device identifier, or a code derived from applying irreversible cryptography to other information like an email address."

"We provide ad companies with information that allows them to serve you with more useful and relevant Amazon ads and to measure their effectiveness. We never share your name or other information that directly identifies you when we do this. Instead, we use an advertising identifier like a cookie, a device identifier, or a code derived from applying irreversible cryptography to other information like an email address. "

"Examples of information we receive from other sources include:
updated delivery and address information from our carriers or other third parties, which we use to correct our records and deliver your next purchase or communication more easily;
account information, purchase or redemption information, and page-view information from some merchants with which we operate co-branded businesses or for which we provide technical, fulfillment, advertising, or other services;
information about your interactions with products and services offered by our subsidiaries;
search results and links, including paid listings (such as Sponsored Links);
information about internet-connected devices and services linked with Alexa; and
credit history information from credit bureaus, which we use to help prevent and detect fraud and to offer certain credit or financial services to some customers."

Additional State-Specific Privacy Disclosures

"In the twelve months prior to the effective date of this Disclosure, Amazon has not sold any personal information of consumers, as those terms are defined under the California Privacy Rights Act."

"The personal information that Amazon disclosed to the third parties <...> in the twelve months prior to the effective date of this Disclosure falls into the following categories <...>:
- identifiers such as your name, address, phone numbers, IP address, or a government identifier <...>;
- personal information, such as a credit card number or other payment information <...>;
- information that may reveal age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or other protected classifications <...>;
- commercial information <...>;
- internet or other electronic network activity information, <...>;
- geolocation data, which may constitute precise geolocation data <...>;
- audio or visual information <...>;
- education information <...>;
- professional information <...>; and
- inference data <...>"

"Any personal information Amazon may have shared for the purpose of cross-context behavioral advertising <...> in the twelve months prior to the effective date of this Disclosure falls into the following categories:
- identifiers such as a cookie, a device identifier, or a code derived from applying irreversible cryptography to other information like an email address; we never share your name or other information that directly identifies you.
- internet or other electronic network activity information <...>.
- inference data; <...>, we may share an advertising identifier and an estimate of the value of the ads they show you on our behalf so they can serve you with more effective Amazon ads."

Alexa and Alexa Device FAQs

While voice recordings won't be used for ad personalization, the transcripts of recordings, and the list of actions that Alexa did in response to your voice commands, may be.

"We may still retain other records of your Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to your request. This allows us, for instance, to continue to provide your reminders, timers, and alarms, process your orders, remember the things you've taught Alexa, and show your shopping and to-do lists and messages sent through Alexa Communications."

"Alexa uses your voice recordings and other information, including from third-party services, to answer your questions, fulfill your requests, and improve your experience and our services. We associate your requests with your Amazon account to allow you to review your voice recordings, access other Amazon services (e.g. so you can ask Alexa to read your Kindle books and play audiobooks from Audible), and to provide you with a more personalized experience. For example, keeping track of the songs you have listened to helps Alexa choose what songs to play when you say, "Alexa, play music." At times, Alexa can provide you with recommendations based on your requests. For example, Alexa may recommend Alexa skills you might like based on the Alexa skills you use."

Wie können Sie Ihre Daten kontrollieren?

We ding this product as it is unclear if all users regardless of location can get their data deleted. Also, interest-based ads are delivered in an opt-out fashion.

"In addition, to the extent required by applicable law, you may have the right to request access to or delete your personal information."

"We keep your personal information to enable your continued use of Amazon Services, for as long as it is required in order to fulfill the relevant purposes described in the Amazon Privacy Notice, as permitted or as may be required by law, or as otherwise communicated to you. For example, we retain your transaction history so that you can review past purchases (and repeat orders if desired) and what addresses you have shipped orders to, and to improve the relevance of products and content we recommend."

"To manage your preferences for third parties and reset your Alexa Advertising IDs, visit Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Skill Permissions and Ad Preferences in the Alexa app and Echo Show devices or https://www.amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings. Even if you turn this setting off, developers and content providers will still receive Alexa Advertising IDs for other purposes, such as reducing ad repetition and fraud detection, but you can reset your Alexa Advertising IDs at any time."

"You can also choose whether to receive interest-based ads delivered by Amazon on Alexa. If you choose not to receive interest-based ads from Amazon, you may still receive personalized recommendations and other similar features. You will still receive ads provided by Amazon, but they will not be based on your interests. You can manage this setting at Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data in the Alexa app and Echo Show devices or https://www.amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings."

Wie ist das Unternehmen in der Vergangenheit mit den Daten über seine Verbraucher umgegangen?

Mangelhaft

In September 2023, FTC filed a lawsuit against Amazon for illegally maintaining monopoly power.

In July 2023, Apple and Amazon were fined by Spain antitrust watchdog.

In June 2023. the FTC took action against Amazon for "for its years-long effort to enroll consumers into its Prime program without their consent while knowingly making it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions to Prime."

In June 2023, Mozilla published a major security vulnerability in the Amazon Ring Video Doorbell. Amazon has still not fixed this security vulnerability.

In March 2023, FTC and DOJ charged Amazon with violating Children’s Privacy Law by keeping kids’ Alexa voice recordings forever and undermining parents’ deletion requests.

In 2023, the company also agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds for alleged privacy violations involving its doorbell camera Amazon Ring.

In 2022, Paige Thompson, a former Amazon employee accused of stealing the personal information of 100 million customers by breaching banking giant CapitalOne in 2019, was found guilty by a Seattle jury on charges of wire fraud and computer hacking.

In July 2021, the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection issued a 746 million euro fine to Amazon for allegedly violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In August 2020, security researchers from Check Point pointed out a flaw in Amazon's Alexa smart home devices that could have allowed hackers access to personal information and conversation history. Amazon promptly fixed the bug.

In October 2020, Amazon fired an employee for leaking customer email addresses to an unnamed third party.

In October 2019, Forbes reported that Amazon employees were listening to Amazon Cloud Cam recording, to train its AI algorythm.

In April 2019, it was revealed that thousands of employees, many of whom are contract workers and some not even directly employed by Amazon, had access to both voice and text transcripts of Alexa interactions.

Informationen zum Datenschutz bei Kindern

"Amazon does not sell products for purchase by children. We sell children's products for purchase by adults. If you are under 18, you may use Amazon Services only with the involvement of a parent or guardian. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13 without the consent of the child's parent or guardian. For more information, please see our Children's Privacy Disclosure."

Kann dieses Produkt offline genutzt werden?

Nein

Benutzerfreundliche Informationen zum Datenschutz?

Nein

Amazon has a complicated mess of various privacy policies, privacy hubs, FAQs, and Advertising Preference pages, and more that is difficult to find, navigate, read, and understand.

Links zu Datenschutzinformationen

Erfüllt dieses Produkt unsere Mindestsicherheitsstandards? Information

Ja

Verschlüsselung

Ja

Sicheres Passwort

Ja

Password-protected Amazon account is needed to set up Alexa.

Sicherheits-Updates

Ja

Umgang mit Schwachstellen

Ja

Amazon has a bug bounty program.

Datenschutzrichtlinie

Ja

Verwendet das Produkt KI? Information

Ja

Alexa provides some information about its AI at the Alexa FAQ and the Amazon Science webpages: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201602230 https://www.amazon.science/tag/alexa

Ist diese KI nicht vertrauenswürdig?

Nicht zu bestimmen

Welche Entscheidungen trifft die KI über Sie oder für Sie?

The Alexa AI runs the Amazon Smart Thermostat, and customers can enable "Hunches" so that the thermostat will go up, down, off, or on, based on when Alexa thinks what you need.

Gibt das Unternehmen transparent an, wie die KI funktioniert?

Ja

Hat der Benutzer die Kontrolle über die KI-Funktionen?

Ja

*Datenschutz nicht inbegriffen

Tauchen Sie tiefer ein

  • Hey, Alexa! What are you doing with my data?
    Federal Trade Commission
  • FTC Takes Action Against Amazon for Enrolling Consumers in Amazon Prime Without Consent and Sabotaging Their Attempts to Cancel
    Federal Trade Commission
  • FTC and DOJ Charge Amazon with Violating Children’s Privacy Law by Keeping Kids’ Alexa Voice Recordings Forever and Undermining Parents’ Deletion Requests
    Federal Trade Commission
  • Mozilla Publishes Ring Doorbell Vulnerability Following Amazon’s Apathy
    Mozilla Foundation
  • Amazon settlements highlight concerns about digital privacy protections
    Yahoo! News
  • Amazon to Pay $30M for Ring and Alexa Privacy Violations: Tips for Protecting Your Smart Home Data
    CNet
  • FTC Sues Amazon for Illegally Maintaining Monopoly Power
    Federal Trade Commission
  • Amazon Echo’s privacy issues go way beyond voice recordings
    The Conversation
  • Amazon Alexa Voice Data Tracking Might Lead To Privacy Issues; How To Prevent It?
    Tech Times
  • I Want You Back: Getting My Personal Data From Amazon Was Weeks of Confusion and Tedium
    The Intercept
  • Tour Amazon’s dream home, where every appliance is also a spy
    The Washington Post
  • Here’s How Amazon Tracks You in 2022 (and how to stop them)
    All Things Secured
  • Amazon demonstrates Alexa mimicking the voice of a deceased relative
    CNBC
  • Does Amazon Sell Your Personal Information?
    DeleteMe
  • Amazon Data Breaches: Full Timeline Through 2022
    Firewall Times
  • Column: Do you really want Amazon’s new drugstore knowing your medical condition?
    Los Angeles Times
  • Alexa records you more often than you think
    Vox
  • Security Researchers Probed 90,194 Amazon Alexa Skills—The Results Were Shocking
    Forbes
  • 'Alexa, are you invading my privacy?' – the dark side of our voice assistants
    The Guardian
  • Study Reveals Extent of Privacy Vulnerabilities With Amazon’s Alexa
    NC State University
  • ‘Millions of people’s data is at risk’ — Amazon insiders sound alarm over security
    Politico
  • Alexa Skills are easy to exploit in a number of worrying ways
    Input Magazine

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