Amazon Phone Thinly Disguised as Alexa Calling

Amazon once tried to release its own phone, but it proved a failure.  Amazon is trying the venture once again as a feature on its smart assistant Alexa called “Alexa Calling.  Alexa Calling allows users to send free voice calls and messages through Echo devices.  It does not come as a surprise, however, that there is a design flaw, this one related to privacy.  The Tech Portal explains more about the privacy issue in, “Privacy Flaw: Why You Should Think Twice Before Enabling Alexa Calling?”

It seems like enable Alexa Calling would be a good idea.  You could call or text anyone for free without evening picking up a phone.  The problem is that when the feature is enabled, anyone can access your contacts list if they can access the speaker.  They will also be able to listen to calls and messages.  Even worse is that Alexa Calling does not allow users to curate their contact list, rather everyone is added.

The absolute worst problem is this:

What’s even more creepy (at least I think it is) is the fact, if you have blocked someone’s number on your phone, won’t matter when s/he calls on the Echo device. YES, they can call and you can do absolutely nothing as of now to prevent this from happening. This is because Alexa just uses your number and not your phone and the settings for voice calls. Hence, you cannot block the incoming calls at all.

When Amazon was asked about blocking unwanted callers on Alexa Calling, their reply was there currently was not any way to do it.  Good job Amazon, another failure in communication.

Whitney Grace, May 25, 2017

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