Earlier this month, a man claimed that all of his Amazon devices locked him out of his own “smart home” system after he was accused of using a racial slur.
According to Breitbart, a man named Brandon Jackson made the claims in a post on Medium, describing in detail how he was locked out of all of his Amazon devices for about a week before the situation was finally resolved.
“On Wednesday, May 31, 2023, I finally regained access to my Amazon account after an unexpected and unwarranted lockout that lasted nearly a week,” Jackson wrote. “This incident left me with a house full of unresponsive devices, a silent Alexa, and a lot of questions.”
The incident that caused the lockout involved an Amazon delivery driver making a dropoff at Jackson’s home. As he walking away, the automated message from Jackson’s doorbell said “Excuse me, can I help you?” The driver, who was wearing headphones, did not acknowledge the message, but later filed a complaint falsely claiming that the doorbell used a racial slur against him. Even after Jackson provided the video evidence to Amazon proving that no such slur was used, he remained locked out of his devices for about a week.
“I reviewed the footage and confirmed that no such comments had been made. Instead, the doorbell had issued an automated response: ‘Excuse me, can I help you?’ The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message,” Jackson recounted.
Jackson said that his smart home system’s Amazon Echo devices primarily communicate with Alexa, the name given to Amazon’s artificial intelligence (A.I.) voice. During the lockout period, he was able to get around most of the technical roadblocks by using Siri, the Apple device equivalent of Alexa, as well as locally-hosted services for most of the other shut-down devices.
Jackson now admits that he is reconsidering his dependence on so-called “smart” devices, and will advocate for consumers having greater ownership of their own devices rather than being at the mercy of an internal A.I.
“I fully support Amazon taking measures to ensure the safety of their drivers,” Jackson added. “However, I question why my entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation. It’s time for Amazon to take a more customer-focused approach to problem-solving and conflict resolution.”