How concerned are you about your smart device randomly recording your conversations? Not to be an alarmist, but after revelations that “The ‘Big five’ tech companies – that’s Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft – have all been recording and listening to private conversations, all in the name of “improving services,” you should be concerned.
If you have lingering concerns about your privacy, there are ways to prohibit strangers from listening to your voice commands and erase your interaction history from your Google Home, Amazon Echo, and HomePod. Here’s how:
Earlier this year, CNET exposed Amazon for keeping transcripts of users Alexa recordings, even after the audio portion of the interaction had been deleted by the user.
In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data. Then tap the toggle switch that says “Use Voice Recordings to Improve Amazon Services to Develop New Features.”
In September, Google agreed that it would no longer store recordings of users’ voices by default. Now users who engage with their Google Assistant will have to opt-in when setup their Google Assistant if they want to have their voice recorded or reviewed by human monitors through the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) program.
Go to myaccount.google.com > Web & App Activity. Then, uncheck the box that says “Include voice and audio recordings.”
Back in August, Apple announced it would no longer listen to Siri recordings without your consent, and they can only receive your audio data should you choose to opt-in.
If you opt-in but later change your mind, go to your Settings > Privacy > Analytics and Improvements > Turn off Improve Siri & Dictation.
Delete your voice recordings
Amazon offers two Alexa commands that allow users to delete voice transcripts by asking Alexa. Say, “Alexa, delete what I just said,” or “Alexa, delete all my commands from today.”
If you prefer to delete your entire history, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History > Delete All Recordings for All History.
To delete your voice command history, go to myaccount.google.com > Data and Personalization > Web & App Activity > Manage Activity > tap the three stacked dots at the top of the screen > Select Delete activity by and choose from the options listed – all-time, last hour, last day, etc. Then tap Delete to confirm.
You can also tell Google to delete your entire voice command history by saying “Hey Google, delete everything I just said.”
Apple’s iOS 13.2 update finally allows users to delete all of their recordings. Open your Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History > and select Delete Siri & Dictation History.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.