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Here's how to prevent Google from holding your voice recordings



Home assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are becoming ubiquitous, and as more and more users discover, how much of their data is actually collected by these practical things. Washington Post s Geoffrey A. Fowler was so convinced of the amount of audio that Amazon collected that he actually made a song from his clip.

If all this makes you worried about deleting recordings already made by Alexa and Google Assistant – but of the two, only Google Assistant will allow you to pause the process so your voice is not recorded in the first place. Here's how.

Note: These steps require you to use a web browser. If you want to do it on a mobile device, you still need to do it via the mobile browser, so the process is almost identical.

  • Go to Google My Activity page
  • Click on "Hamburger" with three lines icon at the top left of the page to get the excerpt menu
  • Click "Activity controls"
  • Scroll down to "Voice and audio activity" . You will see a blue switch that is likely to turn on. Turn it off.
  • You will receive a pop-up message alerting you to the serious consequences of pausing recordings that are not recognized by your faithful assistant companion. Do you still want to stop recording? Replace it.
  • If you change your mind, just go back to the same place and switch it again.

After reading Google's warning screen, I was curious about what would happen if I paused my recording – would Google Assistant no longer recognize me? So before I hit the switch I went to the assistant on my phone and said, "Hi, Google, this is a test." I got the answer "You come loud and clear."

Then I switched "Voice and sound activity" to pause and said, "Hi, Google, this is the second test." In this case, I didn't get a friendly answer – instead I got a list of videos where the term "2nd test" appeared in the description. So it made a difference.

Something else to consider: when you pause voice and sound, you do not pause any other activity. For example, when I finished the two tests above, I went back to the My Activity page, which keeps track of everything you do with Google. (Check it out, it's both fascinating and a bit scary.) I found both "Hi, Google, this is a test" and "Hi, Google, this is the second test" that is there. The only difference was that the former contained a voice recording.

So it's up to you. One compromise is that your Google Assistant can continue to record and simply wipe the existing recordings regularly. This does not quite understand that your voice is not held on any server anywhere. But it's a start.

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