Voice-Activated Devices in Residence Halls

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As with many technologies, using voice-activated smart devices in a shared residential setting comes with responsibilities and privacy considerations. We encourage you to explore the use of voice devices to enhance the community atmosphere and build relationships. We also care about your safety and privacy, and we encourage you to have open conversations with your roommates about these devices and their capabilities.

How can I manage my privacy?

If you have concerns about the use of voice-activated devices in your living space, the first step is to discuss these concerns with your roommate and agree to a set of expectations. To accommodate each other’s wishes, you may need to learn about the features of your device, such as turning off the microphone when you are not using your device. If you are unable to resolve your concerns with your roommate, contact your Community Assistant or Community Director for assistance.

Can multiple voice devices be used in one room?

The Echo Dot is activated using a “wake word.” The default wake word is “Alexa.” For example, you may say “Alexa, play some music.” When more than one device is in a room, roommates may need to program and use a unique wake word for each device. There are four wake words available on an Echo Dot: Echo, Amazon, Computer, and Alexa. Wake words for each applicable device are set using: Settings > Devices > [select device] > Wake Word.

Can my roommate or their guests access my private information from my device?

No. Personal information connected to your Amazon account, such as your credit card number, cannot be accessed through the voice interface.

Can someone else make a purchase using my voice device?

The Echo Dot allows you to make purchases unless you disable voice purchasing through your Amazon account. The Echo Dot does not recognize your voice specifically. Therefore, you may want to consider disabling voice purchasing while living in a shared space. If you decide to enable shopping with Alexa, you can add a voice PIN to confirm each order. Make sure to keep this code private from your roommates and friends.

What if my roommate purchases something through my Echo Dot?

In the event that you believe someone else has used your Echo Dot to purchase something, notify your Community Director. Theft or misuse of personal property violates University Housing Policies and the Student Code of Conduct. Note that all orders for non-digital products placed on Alexa are eligible for free returns, subject to Amazon’s return policies.

Is the Echo Dot always recording?

No. When Echo Dot detects the wake word, the light ring around the top of your Echo Dot turns blue to indicate that the device is streaming audio to the cloud. When you use the wake word, the audio stream includes a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word and closes once your question or request has been processed.

What kind of information is collected?

Amazon has developed a comprehensive privacy notice that addresses information collection. We encourage all residents to read and understand the measures Amazon takes to prevent issues of identity theft and surveillance.

Can I access or delete the information my device has collected?

Yes. You can view or delete specific utterances stored in the cloud by going to the Settings tab and scrolling to the History button in your Alexa app. You can delete all voice recordings associated with your account for your Echo Dot by selecting your Echo Dot at the Manage Your Content and Devices page at www.amazon.com/mycd. Note that deleting voice recordings may degrade your Alexa experience.

Can the Echo Dot work with other technology?

Yes. The Echo Dot can be paired with other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as speakers. Alexa can also control many smart home appliances like smart light bulbs or smart switches. For these connections to occur, you must pair the devices yourself. Some devices also require an Alexa skill to operate. You are in control of the skills you enable on your device.

Can other people “listen in” on my room through my Echo Dot (or my roommate’s)?

The Alexa opt-in "Drop In" feature lets an Echo Dot function like an intercom. You first need to activate the feature and then grant “Drop In” permission to individual friends or family members via settings in the Alexa app. To block Drop In calls, you can turn on Do Not Disturb on your Echo Dot; simply say “Alexa turn on Do Not Disturb.” Drop In is optional and you can turn off the Drop In feature via the Alexa app.

What if my device doesn’t work or malfunctions?

Within the first 90 days of issue, if you experience issues with your device, contact your Community Director to receive a replacement (while supplies last). Malfunctioning devices must be returned in order for a replacement to be issued.

ASU’s Privacy Statement

Refresh yourself with ASU’s privacy statement.

As with all technology capable of communicating or recording, it is important that you become aware of the features available on the devices in your living space, learn how to recognize when they are in use or temporarily deactivate them, and set expectations with your roommate(s) regarding their use. If you have questions or concerns, first talk with your roommate, then talk with your Community Assistant.