Room listening devices, such as Amazon's Alexa and Echo or Google Home, cannot be used in our classrooms, offices or on the network. Technology Services has researched and discussed this with risk management.
Room listening devices violate FERPA as it relates to personally identifiable information and state law related to audio recording. These devices may also violate HIPAA, when a student's health or an IEP discussion is being held in proximity to the device. If you have one, please remove it from your classroom or office. Tech Services staff will disconnect any device found.
How these devices work:
- Always-on microphone devices “listen" to sound in the room, send audio clips to a cloud-based computer for translation, send a response back and/or send the text content to third-party vendors.
- Both Amazon and Google have a basic business model of collecting data on users to build profiles and target users with advertisements.
- Conversations are recorded, and data is sold to third-party companies.
- Here are four articles with additional information:
- Washington Post: Alexa has been eavesdropping on you the whole time
- USA Today: Hey Google and Alexa: Parents worry voice assistants can listen in on kids, survey finds
- ACLU: The Privacy Threat from Always-On Microphones Like the Amazon Echo
- Washington Post: An Amazon Echo recorded a family’s conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says
We want to ensure privacy for all types of data, not just documents and student records. If you have one of these devices, please remove it from your classroom or office.