Asked by: Alex Pereira (Age 12)
Smart speakers sit quietly in your room, listening to you all the time. They are waiting for key phrases such as ‘Hey Siri’, ‘Alexa’, or ‘OK Google’ Once they’ve heard them, they start recording your voice and upload it to the cloud for processing, so they can figure out what you said.
However, the only way a smart speaker can be used to continuously record conversations is for it to be hacked, to change its core software. Smart speakers are hardly unique in this sense – most of us walk around with internet-connected microphones as part of our smartphones, which can also be hacked.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.