It is no secret that Google keeps track of your web searches and locations, but the Internet giant also stores recordings of your voice.
It is not about recording your conversations while you are hanging out with friends or doing work though. Each time you say "Ok Google" to start a web search or, for example, set am alarm on your device the platform records your command.
The company does not conceal this activity, but you can learn about only from reading the multipage "terms of service" agreement, which, let’s be honest, almost none of us actually reads.
The audio files can be listened to on My Activity page, which can be accessed here. On this page, you can also see a timeline of your activity across Google services, including visited websites and videos and pictures you have viewed.
How Google Explains It
The platform records "your voice and other audio, plus a few seconds before," when you say the "Ok Google" command or tap the mic button, the company says.
"Your audio is saved to your account only when you're signed in and Voice & Audio Activity is turned on. Audio can be saved even when your device is offline."
The company also explains that voice and audio activity improves user experience. Recordings are used to learn the sound of your voice, learn how you say words and phrases and to improve speech recognition across Google products.
What's the Problem?
We believe that Google really wants to improve user experience, giving us better search results and making our interaction with its products more personalized, more human-like. But there are at least three little "buts."
- This information can be accessed by an evil-minded person if your Google account is hacked.
- There is the risk that this information may be used against you if you have a conflict with the authorities.
- This information is processed and analyzed to show better targeted, personally "tailored" ads to you, which you may not necessarily like.
What Can I Do?
Luckily, all information Google has collected about you can easily be removed.
On the My Activity page, navigate to "Delete activity by" in the menu on the left of the page, then select "All time" as the date, chose "Voice & Audio" and click delete.
"When Voice & Audio Activity is off, voice inputs won’t be saved to your Google Account, even if you’re signed in. Instead, they may only be saved using anonymous identifiers," Google says.
Finally, you can also change your setting to prevent Google from recording your voice and storing recordings on its servers.