These devices are always listening to obey your commands. Utter the wake word – Alexa, Cortana or Hey Google, and they spring into life. But what if you don’t want your voice data recorded and stored on Amazon’s servers forevermore?
Thankfully, all these services give you the option of deleting your data. Here’s how to remove your voice data collected by the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Siri and Cortana.
While Amazon and Google don’t fully anonymise your voice data, Apple does. All voice commands heading through Siri or Apple’s HomePod smart speaker are anonymised and encrypted – meaning even Apple won’t know what you’re saying.
If you’d like to stop your HomePod from listening out for your commands, you can simply say ‘Hey Siri, stop listening’. Or, from the Home app on your iPhone or iPad, head to Rooms, select the Room that your HomePod is in, long press, tap Details and turn ‘Listen for Hey Siri’ to off.
You can delete individual recordings – something that may be useful if you’ve asked Alexa something particularly embarrassing – through Amazon’s Alexa app. It’s an incomplete but effective way of getting rid of individual commands. Simply select the recording and hit delete.
A more thorough way is to visit Amazon’s Your Content page and navigate to the devices tab.
Under each registered Echo there’s the option to ‘manage voice recordings’. Clicking through prompts a warning that deleting data will “degrade your experience” and also gives the option to get rid of everything.
All of your interactions with Google products – whether it’s search, a mobile browser, or on YouTube – are shown on the My Activity page. There are multiple options to delete data from specific interactions, time periods and more.
To get your voice off Google’s servers, the best place to start is the ‘delete activity by’ option. Here you can delete data within certain time ranges or get rid of everything.
There’s then the option of what you want to delete. The drop-down menu provides an array of options (from Play Music to image searches). The way to get rid of voice data is at the bottom under ‘Voice & Audio’. There’s also a second option to delete all information related to the Google Assistant, which is the AI system underpinning the Google Home products.
There are two hoops to jump through to get rid of some of the voice data Apple holds about you. “Apple will delete your User Data, as well as your recent voice input data,” the company says in its settings. To do this, on iOS, you have to turn off both ‘Ask Siri’ and ‘Dictation’.
These can be found in the Settings app. Siri has its own tab where it’s possible to turn it off. Dictation can be accessed through General and then Keyboard.
However, in Apple’s privacy information about your voice data it makes it clear that historic voice records may be kept for an undisclosed period of time. “Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Ask Siri, Dictation and dictation functionality in other Apple products and services,” the company explains. This can include audio, transcripts and technical data from your phone, including an approximate location.
Like Google, Microsoft stores account settings and Cortana data in its privacy portal. To stop data collection, go to the Cortana settings, select the Notebook and then press About Me. Once a Microsoft account is selected you can sign out.
So its in your hands; You can build your smart home without sacrificing your privacy as well.