Is Google secretly recording everything you say?
As smart home devices equipped with artificial intelligence increase in popularity and we become more reliant on the soothing sound of a computer-generated voice letting us know whether or not it’s going to rain, Google could be listening to everything you say.
Aside from storing your search results and cookie data, Google can also listen to and store what you’re saying if you have their voice features enabled.
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According to Google, the Voice & Audio Activity function helps Google “recognize your voice and improve speech recognition by storing your voice and audio inputs to your account.” But if you’re someone who is skeptical of technology and would rather not have the tech giant record your voice, here’s how to find and delete the recordings.
Is Google secretly recording my voice?
First, make sure you’re logged in to your Google account. Go to myactivity.google.com/myactivity and you’ll see a detailed list of all the sites you’ve visited along with places you’ve searched for on Google Maps and what videos you’ve watched on YouTube. On the left side of the window, click Activity Controls. Once there, scroll down to Voice & Audio Activity and click Manage Activity. You’ll be able to search for voice recordings stored in Google.
If you’ve used the “OK Google” through Google Assistant command to search for something on the web, or have tapped the microphone icon to speak directly to your device, you may be interested in seeing what Google has saved. According to Google, the company “records your voice and other audio, plus a few seconds before,” when you use those functions. Google notes that it records your voice to help its devices learn the sound of your voice and how you say words and phrases. But if you’re someone who is very concerned about online privacy, the thought of some machine secretly recording and storing your voice may creep you out a bit.
Google has been using this function since 2015 and there are many users who have already gone ahead and disabled this function. But since more people are using smart home devices such as Google Home, Alexa and Siri to perform everyday tasks, now might be the right time to check on how your data is being recorded and stored.
If these tools and features scare you in any way when using your personal devices, we might have bad news: You may see them become present in your workplace environment. Last week, Amazon announced Alexa for Business, a service that could provide employees with their own virtual assistant at work. Alexa for Business could help keep track of tasks, organize meetings and order supplies. All of these tools will be meant to help with everyday work tasks, but the thought of having some type of device always listening to everything you say might make your day job more stressful than it is already.