How to Delete the Voice Data That Amazon Echo and Google Home Are Storing
For those of us who don't have an Amazon smart speaker, visits home for the holidays bring with them a new family member, always being shouted at. Alexa! ALEXA! SKIP SONG! But for anyone living with Amazon's or Google's smart home device, day in and day out, you eventually start to wonder: How much is it listening? Is it sending my every word to Big Tech Company HQ?
First of all, yes, it's always listening. It has to be, in order to hear its cue word-"Alexa" or "Hey Google" or "computer" or whatnot. But, according to Wired, it doesn't record anything until it hears that cue. (The podcast Reply All recently did an episode on a related suspicion, the idea that Facebook is listening in through our phones to target ads according to our conversations. Short version: Facebook isn't listening to what you say, but it's tracking you every other way in order to target ads.) Once you trigger your device, however, it is recording, at least in order to send your queries to the cloud.
So your queries go to a server in the cloud, the computers do their work, and Alexa or Hey Google gives you what you want. But what happens to your queries in the cloud? They stay there. Unless you clear them out. Here's how:
For Alexa, go into your Alexa app and select Settings, then History, to delete queries individually. To clear out everything at once, go to Manage Your Content and Devices in your Amazon account. Find your Echo under "Devices," and select "Manage voice recordings." You'll get a pop-up that allows for the full purge.
For Google, go to myactivity.google.com. Click on the three dots in the top right corner, and select "Delete activity by." You'll be able to choose a date range-or all time-and you'll find "Voice & Audio" under "All Products."
There's no way to stop your Echo or Google Home from recording your requests-the devices themselves don't have the information you need, so they have to record your voice to process your commands in the cloud-but you can at least do a regular clean-up.