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Amazon allows Echo call-blocking a month after it should have

Privacy comes in second again.
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Last month, Amazon introduced Alexa calling and messaging, features tailor-made for the Echo and its all-hearing microphone, letting you do busywork while chatting with friends. However, it neglected to add call-blocking for specific contacts, making it equally convenient for unwanted callers to invade your space. Luckily, the company has finally righted that wrong by introducing call-blocking with the latest version of its iOS app.

Until now, if an Amazon user had your phone number and the Alexa mobile app, you couldn't stop them from calling you, recording a voice message or sending texts to any of your Alexa devices, including mobile apps and Echos. As The Verge pointed out last month, they can reach you even if you've blocked them on your cellphone -- a privacy and security nightmare, to say the least.

The new feature "gives you the ability to block contacts from calling and messaging you," according to the notes on iTunes. All you need to do is scroll through your contacts and tap the "block contact" button if you don't want that person to have access to your device. (There's no word on an update for the Android app yet.)

If you want to stop calling on Alexa altogether, you still need to call customer service, unfortunately. As Amazon user Elise Oras pointed out on Medium, that's really not acceptable for a company as pervasive as Amazon. Vulnerable users still have to go through contacts one-by-one if they want to stop calls, or else brave a customer service call, including demands for why they want to disable calling. "I imagine victims of domestic violence, kids that are being bullied, and other victims of violence or crime may have their abuser's number in their phone," she wrote. "Not being able to [easily] block or delete the contact would open up another way for abuse to continue."

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