How Amazon Devices and Services teams protect your privacy

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Protecting our customers’ privacy is central to earning and keeping their trust. It’s a top priority across Amazon, especially for the Alexa and Devices teams that work on privacy and security.

While privacy has been core to how we designed Alexa since day one, our mission is to continuously deliver incredibly delightful experiences for our customers while providing them with control and transparency, keeping their information safe, and using their information responsibly to directly improve their experience. Every day, our teams are inventing to help solve unique privacy challenges presented by voice-first technology and AI. We have teams dedicated to reviewing new devices and features to ensure that privacy is thoughtfully built into the product and experience. Our scientists and engineers invest in research and new machine learning techniques to further improve our technologies for privacy. We challenge ourselves to think about new ways to give customers greater transparency and control over their Alexa experience.

Privacy by design is not a platitude with the Alexa team, it’s a daily operational reality. This strong foundation allows our teams to keep inventing and raising the bar on behalf of our customers. In honor of International Data Privacy Day, here are some of their stories.

Carlos Basulto, Senior Manager, Alexa Privacy Bar Raiser

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“I lead our Alexa Privacy Bar Raiser program, a team of privacy by design product leaders who work hands on with product teams as they raise the bar for privacy on behalf of all our customers. As part of the program, we start working with teams from the inception of a new idea and continue to advise and support them through every stage of product development up until launch. We help teams develop delightful and innovative features that ensure privacy is built into the experience from the ground up. This last year has been an exciting one for innovation, and one of the most interesting projects was working on our new Echo Show 10, which is coming soon to customers. The new Echo Show makes using Alexa even easier, with features such as helping you stay in frame on video calls as you move around your home. An example of the privacy elements we designed into the experience is ensuring that customers can always control motion. You can simply say “Alexa, turn motion off,” turn it on/off in the Alexa app. You can also turn the microphones and camera off or on with a single button, or slide the built-in shutter to cover or uncover the camera. Turning off or covering the camera disables motion. And no images or video are sent to the cloud as part of this feature. Motion processing takes place completely on the device. Our team was involved in every detail of the design, and it is really exciting to see this product launching soon for customers. 

I am driven by learning and innovation, and this role makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Privacy, especially in a voice- and video-powered smart device, is an extremely exciting, complex, and interesting product space right now. I have had the opportunity to work on some challenging yet rewarding product questions since joining this team, and I feel like Alexa, and especially privacy at Alexa, is a dream job for a product leader. I can’t wait to see what we deliver next.”

Oluwaseyi Feyisetan, Senior Applied Scientist

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“I’m on the Alexa Privacy Engineering team, and our work centers on privacy-enhancing techniques. In my role, I get to work with teams across Alexa to help them look at privacy from the data and machine learning perspectives so that we continually create magical Alexa experiences for our customers while also making sure that their privacy is protected. Getting to interface with multiple teams to help them solve for numerous privacy challenges and being able to help influence privacy decisions on behalf of our customers is by far my favorite part of my job. For example, I spend a lot of my time educating teams about the process of thinking through the nuances of privacy and future-proofing privacy mechanisms. My goal is to help them see privacy as an enabler for invention. 

I studied in the UK, and my Ph.D. was focused on crowdsourcing data. Working at Amazon, I’ve been able to deepen my expertise in privacy while also being able to apply my Ph.D. to the work I do every day. It’s been an incredible experience that has led to more opportunities, including becoming a Research Advisory Board Member of the IAPP and organizing a workshop series on Privacy in Natural Language Processing.” 

Allison Takeuchi, Senior Manager, Alexa Privacy Experiences

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“In my role, I lead product and technology development for the Alexa Privacy Experiences team. We build features that provide customers with transparency and control over their Alexa experience, like ‘Alexa, why did you do that?’ and choosing how long to save your voice recordings. My team is focused on inventing new ways to make it even easier for customers to understand how Alexa works and to manage their privacy controls. While we’ve continuously introduced more privacy features, one of my recent favorites to work on for customers was ‘Alexa, review my privacy settings.’ You can simply say, ‘Alexa, review my privacy settings,’ and we will send you a direct link in the Alexa app. It’s such a simple feature for our customers to use, and gets at the core of what is important, which is making privacy easier and intuitive for our customers. 

I am a problem solver at heart, and as a kid I would time myself as I completed puzzles or brain teasers. The complexity and ever-evolving nature of the privacy space really speaks to my inner child. And privacy isn’t just one thing. It can mean very different things to different people. At the end of the day, my job isn’t just about privacy. It’s about continually earning trust with our customers so that ultimately we can create the best Alexa experience for them.” 

If you are interested in joining the team, find more information at Amazon.jobs.

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