If you’ve ever wondered whether your smart devices—like maybe that handy Kindle Fire sitting in your pocket or somewhere nearby—are spying on you somehow, you’re not alone. In fact, while some might write it off as paranoia, you might actually be onto something with thoughts like this.
Today, we’re going to take a look at how your Amazon smart devices—and especially the flagship Kindle Fire—might be listeningto you, whether you want it to or not. Read on if you’ve ever wondered what that shiny little e-reader of yours could be listening in on.
Here’s If Your Kindle Fire Is Listening To You:
Your Kindle Fire is listening to you and tracking your movements. Not only that, but all your Amazon devices are probably doing so in some form. End-user agreements mean that the companies that own these devices have the right to listen to you. But they can’t use this data or sell it.
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Tracking data, cookies, personalized ads, deceptively worded policy agreements nobody reads: these and many more facets of the modern information age have become entirely ubiquitous and normal to most internet users, to the point where they don’t usually cause much concern in day-to-day life.
But you’d be right to stop and question whether all this tracking is really in your best interests, and if the big corporations pushing these smart devices could be listening to more than you think.
If that worries you, if you want to do something about it, or if you’re just curious what data of yours may be being collected and why, then read on.
How Can You Check If Your Kindle Devices Are Listening?
If you purchased a Kindle device, signed into your account, or made an account, and agreed to the end-user agreement (that long legalese wall of text nobody reads), then your Kindle is tracking and listening to you.
Many users have tested this already, and you technically gave Amazon permission to do so in that aforementioned agreement you probably didn’t read, it was just buried in dense legal jargon nobody has time to decipher.
So all you really need to check to find out if your Kindle is listening in or tracking you in other ways is whether you currently have an internet connection and the device has power. If both are true, then you’re almost certainly being tracked in some way.
This sort of thing has become normalized lately, and if that scares you, it’s because it probably should.
How Do I Stop A Kindle From Listening?
Short of jailbreaking your device (more on that in a later section), the simplest way to be sure your device isn’t listening in or tracking you in other ways is to disconnect the internet and location services.
If you turn off wi-fi and location tracking, it’s not necessarily a sure-fire guarantee you’re not being recorded or tracked, but it certainly makes it a lot more difficult. If you want to use the internet-based features of your device, just remember to turn the wi-fi back off again when you’re done.
You can also go to your privacy settings and opt out of features like customized ads. This will not stop tracking or listening altogether, but it will place more limits on how Amazon can use your data. Note that even if you disable personalized ads, you will still be advertised to, the ads just won’t be custom-tailored to you based on your reading, browsing, and recording history.
What Exactly Does Kindle Use These Recordings For?
It’s difficult for us to say anything with complete certainty when it comes to how Amazon uses your data—including voice recordings from your Kindle—because the company is notoriously opaque about this sort of thing and doesn’t really want you to worry about it or think about it too much.
That said, Amazon claims that it simply uses all your data to improve the user experience, be that through personalized ads or just using aggregate data for research and development purposes when it comes to new products, services, and software updates.
But did you know the information your Kindle collects about you—from reading habits to voice recording snippets—can be used in legal proceedings?
In practice, this means that you could browse a book on bomb-making (or another “suspicious” topic) out of genuine academic curiosity, or perhaps make a dumb joke to a friend (with your Kindle nearby) that would get you thrown out of airports, only to have this later dredged up as evidence of possible criminal intent.
The thing to keep in mind here is that large corporations designed to sell products to you are not compelled to act in your best interest. Amazon’s primary interest is making as much money as possible, and always will be. Sometimes this lines up with what you want too, but a lot of times it’s directly at odds with your privacy.
With all this in mind, it’s quite natural and even healthy to be suspicious of what your smart devices might be listening in on.
Check out our blog about is my Comcast device listening to me?
Can You Use Kindle Devices Without Them Snooping On You?
The good news is there are a couple of things you can do to prevent being listened to or tracked.
To completely remove any possibility of tracking, you could jailbreak your device, if you’re willing to void the warranty. If you don’t want to go that far, careful management of your settings and internet connection can help.
Let’s take a look at the options:
Regulate Internet and Location Settings
If you’re not doing something on your Kindle that needs internet, turn the wi-fi off. Likewise, if you’re not using a service that needs your location to function, turn that off too.
If an app requests your location, deny the request unless it’s actually necessary for whatever you want to do at the time.
Frequently use the Kindle smartphone app to delete Alexa conversation data (see the last section for how to do that), or tell Alexa out loud to delete it once every day.
You might be surprised how few activities on your Kindle actually require the wi-fi to stay on all the time. You’ll need to turn it on to download a book, certainly, but you can turn it back off again before you actually start reading the newly downloaded book.
Just about any use of the internet your Kindle is capable of is something you can turn wi-fi on for temporarily, then back off again when you’re done.
You should also spend some time in your device’s settings menu under the privacy tab, familiarizing yourself with all the options you have and opting out of any optional recording or tracking options.
If you do all this, we can’t guarantee your Kindle won’t ever listen to you or send recordings or tracking data to Amazon, but it will at the very least have a lot fewer opportunities to do so because no data can be sent when there isn’t an internet connection.
Jailbreak your Device
As a disclaimer, we have to let you know that jailbreaking your device will almost certainly void your warranty, and as such, we can’t advise you do so, but we can let you know the option exists, and let you make an informed decision on what’s best for you.
That being said, while it will void your warranty, there’s nothing illegal about jailbreaking from what we can tell. Amazon certainly would prefer you not do it, but you paid for this device, and it’s your warranty to void if you wish.
So with the disclaimers out of the way, what actually is jailbreaking? Put simply, to jailbreak a device is to remove hardware restrictions put in place by the manufacturer and give you more control over how your device functions and what data it sends and receives.
Jailbreaking can be a little complicated, however, and a guide on how to do it could be an entire article unto itself. That said, if you’re interested in jailbreaking your Kindle, Lifehacker has you covered in this article of theirs.
Can Kindle Devices Listen While Turned Off?
As near as we can tell, your Kindle probably can’t listen in on you when the device is fully powered off. However, do keep in mind we are unable to 100% verify this claim, and Amazon has been caught listening to more than they claim to on paper in the past.
That being said, while we cannot say for certain whether it can listen to you when powered off (but it probably can’t), your Kindle definitely can pick up ambient conversation snippets on standby mode.
In theory, when you use Alexa on any Amazon device, it will only start recording your voice when you use the wake-up phrase. However, the writer of this article claims that Alexa recorded several random snippets of audio without the wake-up word or anything remotely similar to it being said.
Can You Have Old Recordings From A Kindle Deleted?
Using the Kindle smartphone app, you can go to “Alexa privacy” under settings and delete old conversations.
You can also tell Alexa on any compatible device, “Alexa, delete everything I said today” to delete all voice data recorded on the same day.
It is unclear if this data is saved on the cloud in any way or if it otherwise gets to Amazon even if you delete it.
The fact is that most devices are always listening to our speech, some in order to use their features to their best ability. For example, the Amazon Firestick listens, but only so that it can identify voice prompts that will activate its voice command.
The real problem is not with the devices listening, but whether this information is being used by other parties or by companies like Amazon themselves.
Read this blog about is my is my Firestick listening to me?
- Phys: Amazon Is Tracking You
- Inquisitr: Kindle Is Listening
- Bullguard: Did You Know your Kindle Is Spying on You?
- Lifehacker: How to Jailbreak your Kindle