Shock, horror. If you use a voice assistant to help you with tasks, your privacy has been invaded. But, unlike other privacy scandals, this is one the owners of smart speakers should have seen coming.

Led by Amazon’s Alexa (which runs through its Echo speakers), the voice assistant market has exploded in recent years as smart speakers have popped up in homes all over the world. All smartphone owners can also use Google Assistant (on Android) or Siri on iPhones and other Apple products, without the need for a standalone gadget like Echo. Facebook has an opt-in service that transcribes voice chats — which has been suspended in Europe after this audio was "mistakenly" sent to human contractors. The power of voice assistants has been trumpeted by the companies that offer them, but it turns out all of the big tech firms, despite saying they don’t listen in, actually do.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now