Huge shock. Another big tech company is paying people to review private footage.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Amazon workers in India and Romania use clips from Cloud Cam to train AI algorithms to differentiate between real and fake home threats, like a burglar versus your dog knocking something over.
The report claims that some of these workers were taking notes on up to 150 different 20-to-30-second clips a day. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg that the clips were all submitted voluntarily or by employee testers.
“We treat this information with the highest confidentiality, and have strict technical and operational safeguards in place to protect it including use of secured facilities and multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment,” an Amazon spokesperson told Mashable in a statement. “Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of video clips submitted for troubleshooting, and have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems.”
They further explained, “Using the ‘feedback’ option in the Cloud Cam app, customers are able to share a specific clip with Amazon to improve the service. When a customer chooses to share a clip, it may get annotated and used for supervised learning to improve the accuracy of Cloud Cam’s computer vision systems.”
The Cloud Cam is a high-def security camera that allows users to see what’s going on in their home via an app. It has Alexa integration and costs $90, making it an affordable alternative to the $200 Nest Cam.
There are some other disturbing details alleged in the report. Even though the workers were on a floor that officially restricted access and prohibited phone use, some still managed to circulate clips.
And two people told Bloomberg about “rare” instances of clips picking up some, uh, intimate moments.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it’s simply the latest in a string of workers for giant tech companies listening or watching media that users probably assumed was completely private.
And all of these reports come years after it was revealed that Samsung’s SmartTV was eavesdropping on users.
A few years ago, the suggestion that your devices are listening to you was dismissed as a conspiracy theory. Now, it’s simply reality.
Welcome to the Internet of Things.
UPDATE: Oct. 10, 2019, 11:39 a.m. EDT Updated to include Amazon statements.