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Amazon gives Alexa more privacy-oriented features, launches upgraded Echo Show

Users of Inc.'s Alexa can now tell the digital assistant to wipe their voice recordings as part of an update announced May 29.

Currently, Alexa users can only delete their stored data via the Alexa smartphone app and on the web.

Users can command the digital assistant to delete all voice recordings from that day by saying: "Alexa, delete everything I said today." Soon, users will also be able to delete their last recording by saying: "Alexa, delete what I just said."

The features arrive in the wake of a Federal Trade Commission complaint from privacy groups who have accused Amazon of breaching the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.

They say the company does not provide sufficient information about what personal data its child-oriented smart speaker, the Echo Dot Kids Edition, collects from users 13 and under.

The device could also be in violation of Europe's data-privacy laws, known as GDPR, according to cybersecurity representatives who spoke to S&P Global Market Intelligence earlier this month.

Amazon also today announced an upgraded version of its smart speaker with a screen, the Echo Show 5. The device has a 5.5-inch display, HD camera, a built-in camera shutter, and a dashboard from which users can control their internet-connected gadgets.

Amazon introduced an Alexa Privacy Hub as a single resource on how Echo smart speakers are designed and the Alexa controls available to users.

The company says Alexa only records conversations after a user says its name.

This information is used to improve the digital assistant's "speech recognition and natural language understanding systems" and Amazon's services, according to its FAQ. Deleting data "may degrade your Alexa experience," it adds.

A Bloomberg article in April said that Amazon employs thousands of workers across the globe to transcribe Alexa's recordings.

The company responded that staffers annotate an "extremely small number of interactions from a random set of customers," and that they do not have access to information that can identify a person or Amazon account.

Amazon revealed in January that 100 million Alexa devices have been sold, including both its own hardware (such as smart speakers, tablets and set-top boxes) and third-party products. At the time, it said Alexa was available on 150 devices in total.