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Keep Amazon, Google and Apple out of your conversations: A guide to protect your privacy

Find out what Amazon, Google and Apple employees may be able to hear, and how to opt out.

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Siri and Alexa are always listening, but that doesn't mean you can't have privacy.
Julie Snyder/CNET

If you take a quick walk around your home, you will likely spot several Apple, Amazon and Google devices. From Echo smart speakers to smart phones and smart displays to HomePods -- maybe even the new Facebook Portal Plus -- your home probably has a smart device every several feet. The invasion of smart gadgets into your home brings understandable privacy concerns, especially since many of these companies have a controversial history of recording and reviewing users' voice data without their consent. But there are several ways to protect your privacy. 

If you're concerned about your privacy, you can put a stop to strangers listening to your voice commands and completely wipe all interactions you've made with your device. These options are available for Google Home ($65 at Walmart), Amazon Echo and HomePod devices. Here's what to do.

Read more: 4 iOS 15 privacy features you should know: Siri, Mail and more

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Keep Amazon, Google and Apple employees from listening in

Amazon

You can put a stop to Amazon employees listening to your voice recordings. In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data. From here, select Choose How Long to Save RecordingsDon't Save Recordings > Confirm. Next, scroll down to Help Improve Alexa, and switch the Use of Voice Recordings to off. 

Google

Google has suspended human review of audio recordings. However, if you're still cautious, there's two ways to turn off the voice activity. 

On your PC, go to myactivity.google.com and click the Settings Bars in the top left. Click Activity Controls. Next, uncheck the box that says Include Audio Recordings to prevent Google from linking your voice recordings with your account.

You can also open the Google Home mobile app. Select your Profile Icon > My Activity > Saving Activity. Toggle Include Audio Recordings on or off. 

Apple

In 2019, Apple announced it would no longer listen to Siri recordings without your permission. The company can only receive your audio data if you choose to opt in. If you opt in and later change your mind, go to your iPhone's Settings > Privacy > Analytics and Improvements > turn off Improve Siri & Dictation.

You can also tap Settings > Siri & Search. Toggle off Listen for "Hey Siri." 

Read more: Google Assistant: How to improve your privacy by turning it off

echo-show-15-media-lifestyle-6.png

The Echo Show 15 is just the latest Amazon product to make its way into homes. 

Amazon

How to delete your voice recordings from Alexa, Siri and Google

Amazon

Amazon offers three Alexa commands that will let you delete your voice transcripts by asking Alexa. To delete what you just said say, "Alexa, delete everything I said today," or, "Alexa, delete what I just said." To delete all your previous recordings, you can say, "Alexa, delete everything I've ever said."

If you prefer to delete your entire history manually, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History. Next, tap the downward-facing arrow next to Displaying and then the arrow next to Filter By Date. Then you will tap All History > Delete All My Recordings. 

Google

To delete your voice command history, go to myaccount.google.com > Data and Personalization > Web & App Activity > Manage Activity > Tap the three stacked dots menu at the top of the screen > Select Delete Activity By and choose from the options -- all time, last hour, last day, etc. Tap Delete to confirm.

You can also tell Google to delete your voice command history. Just say, "Hey, Google, delete everything I just said."

Apple

A feature that came with a previous ISO update lets you delete all of your recordings. On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, open your Settings > Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History > and select Delete Siri & Dictation History.

On a HomePod, go to HomePod Settings in the Home app and tap Siri History. Then tap Delete Siri History.

Need more information about keeping your information private? Check out how to further shore up your Google Home privacy settings, what to do if you have Amazon Echo privacy fears and these top five new security and privacy settings for your iPhone.

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