Goa DGP Muktesh Chander while speaking at a seminar on cybersecurity on Thursday warned people against excessive use of Alexa and mobile apps. He said that these apps act as spies as they collect private information of people.
DGP Chander, who has also served as Centre Director of cyber division of National Technical Research Centre, said that Alexa listens to everything and passes it on to Amazon. “And what Alexa does. All the time it is listening. Everything. Every word you are saying, Alexa is listening and passing it on to Amazon. What can be a bigger spy than this?” he stressed.
DGP Chander also warned about the popular Pakistani music website songs.pk. He said that there is a reason why this website provides sound free of cost and that is because this site promotes UC web browser which is a “compromised Chinese-made browser”. “Sounds.pk… PK are Pakistani sites. Why are they giving sounds free of cost? All of a sudden if you are trying on mobile, one thing is bound to come up… UC browser.” He further said, “Because UC browser is… a Chinese browser. It is collecting all the information. So there is a hidden agenda”.
As Alexa works on voice command, it continuously remains in listening mode. Moreover, it has been found that the devices also record sounds it hears, and sends them to Amazon servers, without the knowledge of users. It has raised privacy concerns about the service.
Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon which is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts and providing other information like weather, traffic, sports and news. It can also work as home automation system.
Although the DGP warned about the Pakistani site promoting UC browser, most phones used in India already have this browser already installed. UC browser is the second most used browser in India, only after Chrome. This browser comes preloaded in most low-end smart and feature phones, as this Java-based browser works well on such phones. Till a few years ago, it was the most used browser in India for several years, until Google Chrome overtook it due to the proliferation of more powerful Android devices in the country. UC Browser is developed by Chinese mobile Internet company UCWeb, which is owned by the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.