A U.K. law firm, Mishcon de Reya, has warned attorneys who are working from home to turn off their smart speakers while they’re talking to clients so the conversations don’t get recorded, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Mishcon de Reya has worked with such high-profile clients as Princess Diana, on her separation from Prince Charles, as well as in corporate law. It asked staff to either mute or turn off speakers like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s voice assistant. It also advised them to not have any devices nearby at all when working.
Mishcon de Reya partner Joe Hancock said that the firm is also worried about products like the electronic video doorbell Ring, baby monitors and closed circuit TVs.
He said that they’re not as worried about Amazon and Alexa smart speakers, but more so the knockoff products.
“Perhaps we’re being slightly paranoid but we need to have a lot of trust in these organizations and these devices,” Hancock said. “We’d rather not take those risks.”
People working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic has presented a new set of issues for companies that need to be private and confidential. Many documents need to be secured and bankers and lawyers alike have been trying to walk the line between working at home and allowing for the confidentiality needed to do a job.
Smart speakers are fairly well known for activating accidentally, buying things they weren’t supposed to or sending inadvertent snippets of conversation to Google or Amazon.
About 76 million smart speakers have been installed in households throughout the United States, and that number is growing exponentially.
Both companies say that their devices don’t activate unless a wake word is spoken, but a study by Northeastern University and Imperial College London found that they wake up accidentally between 1.5 and 19 times daily.
Google has an option for users to opt-in to voice recordings now, and Amazon lets users set up automatic deletion of recordings.