Your Amazon Echo just got a brilliant but controversial new feature

Your Amazon Echo just got a brilliant but controversial new feature

The Amazon Echo can already access a wealth of information via simple voice search but now it will answer questions about your health.

A new update, arriving this week, will allow these smart devices to link straight to the NHS website allowing users to ask for help with common complaints.

The partnership between Amazon and the health service will provide answers such “What are the symptoms of chickenpox?” or “How do I treat a migraine?”

“Technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

However, despite this update clearly offering some very useful advice, it has raised concerns over our most sensitive health data being shared and stored across the web.

Director Silkie Carlo from civil liberty group Big Brother Watch told the BBC: “Any public money spent on this awful plan rather than frontline services would be a breathtaking waste.

“Healthcare is made inaccessible when trust and privacy is stripped away, and that’s what this terrible plan would do.”

“It’s a data protection disaster waiting to happen.”

And Boris Cipot, senior security engineer at Synopsys, added “From a convenience standpoint, the ease of such an offering provides instant answers for users seeking health advice.

“This is especially true if users aren’t feeling well.

“And yet, data protection is definitely a concern with the news that Amazon Alexa has now teamed up with the NHS to offer UK users health-related advice through voice search.

“Not only will the data be saved, but it remains unclear how the user data that is collected will be used.

“Users need to use such services with care. Remember that home assistants are connected to the internet, so the questions you ask and data you provide are only so private.”

Although these concerns have been raised, Amazon is making it clear that it doesn’t share information with third parties or build profiles on its customers.

In a statement to the Times, the firm said: “All data was encrypted and kept confidential. “Customers are in control of their voice history and can review or delete recordings.”

Published at Thu, 11 Jul 2019 06:46:00 +0000