2019 was anything but good for smart home devices as reports of voice assistants recording users’ voices which was then heard by human contractors surfaced. Amazon, Google and Apple were in the spotlight this year for their use of undisclosed voice data recorded by their smart assistants.
Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are voice-enabled and respond to the wake commands like ‘Ok Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’. So, in order to hear the wake commands, the voice assistants are indeed disconcertingly constantly listening. But it is possible to stop these assistants from recording your audio or send these recordings for human review. Here’s how:
To stop Alexa from sending recorded audio for human review:
- Open Settings on Alexa app.
- Go to Alexa Privacy and Select Manage how your data improves Alexa
- Turn off the Help Develop New Features and Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions option.
It is also possible to access the voice recordings recorded by your Alexa through the app or Amazon website in Alexa Privacy and even delete them. Alternatively, it is possible to delete the audio recorded in real-time through the voice command, “Alexa, delete what I just said.” when the option is enabled. To enable it, go to Review Voice History in Alexa Privacy.
To stop Google Assistant from sending recorded audio for human review:
- Open Google account and select Data & Personalization.
- In Activity controls panel, click on Web & App Activity
- Uncheck the ‘Include voice and audio recordings’ option.
If the audio recording was enabled, you can access the list of past recordings by going to Manage Activity in Data & Personalization. Also, you can delete each recording individually by clicking on the More option besides each one or delete them all at once by clicking the More option in the top-right corner.
To stop Siri from sending recorded audio for human review:
After the iOS 13.2 update, Apple asks users if you would like to opt into the user review program during the initial setup. In case you opted yes and now want to back out:
- Go to Settings on your iPhone.
- In Privacy, click on Analytics & Improvements
- Now, turn off the slider labelled Improve Siri & Dictation.
To delete all your previously recorded audio, Go to Siri & Search in Settings and click on Delete Siri & Dictation History in the Siri & Dictation History panel.
If you still feel like your audio data is not safe, turning off the voice assistants when not required or while having intimate conversations is also a good idea.