Managing Your Voice Recordings On Smart Devices
Apple, Amazon, and Google recently changed their policies after privacy concerns were raised
Voice assistants have revolutionized the industry when it comes to having an extra set of digital hands in our home or office. Privacy was always the forefront of this and many sci-fi spinoffs were made to make us even more paranoid of our soon to be robot overlords.
There have been multiple lawsuits against these corporations due to a breach of privacy as it is well known that all of these devices record and store your voice commands in the cloud. This means you can essentially listen to your voice speaking to Alexa, for example, and Amazon sends off your voice sample to a third-party to analyze to help tweak the artificial intelligence. To make it clear, there has been enough evidence out there that third-parties do collect and listen to your messages – even to the extent where they claimed to hear malicious events, or crime happening through the voice assistants. Now let’s stop scaring you and show you how to disable some of these features in each device to keep your privacy in check.
- Click Settings > Alexa Privacy
- Select individual entries or all the recordings at once and click “Delete Voice Recordings” for any data you don’t want
You can also access all your Alexa products online and delete voice recordings for each. Click the “…” logo on the left side next to the device name and select “Delete voice recordings.”
In May, Amazon added a feature that allows users to delete their voice recordings by command: “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today.” To enable this, visit Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History in the Alexa app or online.
To opt-out of Alexa sending voice recordings and data to Amazon:
- Visit the Alexa Privacy page
- Click “Manage how your data improves Alexa”
- Turn off “Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features”
- Turn off “Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions”
Siri and Dictation
On Aug. 2, Apple suspended its reviews of voice recordings by human contractors and said users could opt out with a future software update.
According to Apple’s terms for Siri and dictation, what users say and dictate are recorded and sent to Apple, along with other information, such as names, contacts and their relationships to you, Home-Kit-enabled devices in the user’s home, and what other apps are installed on the device. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
To disable Siri in iOS 11+ on Apple devices:
- Settings > Siri & Search
- Turn off “Listen for ‘Hey Siri’” and “Press Side Button for Siri”
- Confirm “Turn Off Siri”
Then, users can also disable recording from dictations.
- Click Settings > General > Keyboard
- Turn off “Enable Dictation” and confirm
In mid-July, Google suspended its policy of reviewing Google Assistant voice recordings across the European Union for at least three months, and a German privacy regulator launched an investigation August 1st.
Users can access their data history from any of their devices that are tied to their Google account through the Google activity page. Google said voice recordings are disabled by default when users create a Google account and they have to opt-in for them to be stored in their account.
- Scroll to “Voice & Audio Activity” (If it says ‘(paused),’ it’s already disabled, and if not, you can disable the blue slider.)
- Click “Manage Activity”
- Use the search bar to search through the history by date or keywords and delete