Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu teamed up to learn the extent to which home automation devices report back to their manufacturers and leak personal information. Hill filled her house with smart devices, including an Amazon Echo, lights, coffee maker, TV, and even a bed. Then she had Surya monitor how much data was sent out by the devices. The results may shock you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst offender was the Amazon Echo, which contacted Amazon’s servers every few minutes, even when the “Alexa” wake word and the microphone were turned off.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the worst offender was the Amazon Echo, which contacted Amazon’s servers every few minutes, even when the “Alexa” wake word and the microphone were turned off.
"Even without the 'Alexa' wake word, and even when the microphone is turned off, the Echo is frequently checking in with Amazon, confirming it is online and looking for updates."
That's unnecessary but unless your bandwidth is strictly metered, these frequent check-ins are an unnoticeable amount of data (4 packets every 3 minutes would be ~117KB/hour) and reveal nothing about you other than you have Echo hardware.
You can learn a lot of the same things, and more, watching the traffic from your computers and phones rather than a bunch of poorly designed connected devices.
The article reveals some opportunities for laws and regulations but unfortunately, Ajit Pai's FCC stopped implementation of regulations to prevent your ISP from selling information about your traffic. Then, the Republicans passed a law to prevent future FCC's from trying to implement such protections in the future.