How To Prevent Google From Saving Your Voice Recordings

How To Prevent Google From Saving Your Voice Recordings

The unfortunate trade-off of a smart speaker is clear: for the convenience of having something to yell at that can tell you what the weather is, what the traffic is like, and whether your front door is unlocked or not (to name a few items), you have to give up your privacy to a giant corporate entity.

In turn, said company might funnel your spoken thoughts to random employees around the world under the guise of “technological improvement,” or they might just keep an archive of everything you say so your device can get “smarter” — serving you more relevant information and, at the same time, helping said companies get a more thorough profile of you for no particular reason at all (cough advertising).

As much as we’ve advised Amazon fans to consider deleting your stored Alexa recordings from time to time, and stop giving Amazon a ton of access to what you say, users of Google’s smart devices should adopt the same mindset.

Thankfully, it’s just as easy to find and delete your information from Google’s servers, and you can even prevent Google from creating an archive of you to begin with.

Finding and deleting your Google Home voice and audio recordings

First, go visit Google’s “My Activity” page. If you’ve never been here before, prepare to spend a bit of time taking a look at everything you’ve done on Google’s services — it’s fascinating. Scary, but fascinating.

When you’re ready to start deleting your voice recordings, click on the “Filter by date & product” option under the search bar of the Bundle or Item view. Deselect everything by clicking on “All products,” and then scroll down and select “Voice & Audio.” Scroll back up and click on the blue magnifying glass.

You’ll now see a list of everything you’ve said to your Google Home device. Hopefully your life is as boring as mine:

ImageScreenshot: David Murphy

To get to deleting, simply click the triple-dot icon to the right of the search box and select “Delete results.” Wave goodbye to everything you’ve said to your Google Home.

Getting Google to stop storing voice records

You can prevent Google from keeping records of that which you say to your smart devices, but you’ll need to hop to a different screen for that. Click on “Activity controls” on the left-most sidebar, and then scroll down a bit until you see “Voice & Audio Activity.”

ImageScreenshot: David Murphy

When you go to “pause” Google’s collection efforts, you’ll get a big scary warning that doing so will make it harder for Google to provide you with more relevant information. Your smart speaker might not even recognise your voice.

ImageScreenshot: David Murphy

When you trigger the pause, it appears as if whatever you say to your smart speaker doesn’t get recorded and saved by Google. When I tested this out, the commands I tossed to my Google Home didn’t appear in my Activity List, but an errant “what time is it” question was apparently picked up by the Google app — possibly from the Android smartphone sitting near my desk? Maybe a weird blip as a result of my turning the feature on and off fairly rapidly?

I’m still a little unclear about that part, so you should still peruse your activity log from time to time just in case your speaker, your smartphone, or who-knows-what still picks up your voice requests. If you find that you’re coming up blank when you run a search for voice and audio activity, you can probably lessen how much you check going forward.