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Prevent Your Google Nest From Spying on You With These Privacy Tips

Google is recording you. Here's how to purge those voice recordings and protect your privacy.

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shelbybown
Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
Credentials
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
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Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
Shelby Brown
Attila Tomaschek
4 min read
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Improve your privacy with a few clicks.

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People were understandably unnerved when reports surfaced in 2019 that Google and Amazon were giving human contractors access to audio clips from customers' Google Home (now Google Nest) and Echo devices. Google has since changed its policy, requiring you to opt in to recording voice searches in the first place. Keep in mind that opting in still allows for human review, though the audio is anonymized. (Google does this to improve personalization across its platform.)

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If you don't remember if you opted in, or if you opted in and regret it now, it's worth taking a moment to see what Google's recorded about you. Even though Google changed its stance on recording voice searches, the rest of your Google ecosystem activity might still be getting saved for posterity, no opt-in required.

You can find all of your Google activity, from Google Maps navigation to search engine queries, in the My Activity section of your Google account. You can read a list in the Google Home app or even listen to your own voice search history (if any has been recorded). Fortunately, you can easily purge your account of all these recordings. 

Delete your Google Assistant voice recordings on your PC

1. Go to myactivity.google.com on desktop. If you have multiple Gmail accounts, make sure you're signed into the one associated with your Google Home device.

2. Click Web & App Activity

3. Choose Manage All Web and App Activity

4. Click Filter by date & product.

5. Check Voice and Audio in the list of Google Products and click Apply.

From there, you can view a chronological list of all the commands you've given your device. You can manually tap the X to delete commands one by one, or you can set a date range to clear a larger set of commands.

Delete your Google Assistant voice recordings on your phone

Unfortunately, you can't filter by date and product in the Google Home app yet. You can only filter by date, so you either have to delete commands one at a time, delete everything or your web activity gets lumped in. It works on mobile browsers though. 

1. Go to myactivity.google.com on mobile browser. If you have multiple Gmail accounts, make sure you're signed into the one associated with your Google Home device.

2. Tap Filter by date & product.

3. Scroll down and tap Voice & Audio.

From here, it'll work the same as if you were deleting recordings on desktop.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Delete Google Assistant voice recordings using your voice

You can also delete your voice recordings using your voice if you prefer -- no computer or phone required. Just tell your Google Home device something like "Hey, Google, delete my voice recordings from the past 30 days," or whatever time period you want to delete. You can even say, "Hey, Google, delete the last thing I said" if you don't want to delete a whole batch of recordings at once. 

Automatically delete your Google Assistant voice recordings

Auto-deleting your voice recordings at set intervals is also easy to do.

1. Go to your Google account and click Manage your Google Account.

2. Click Data & privacy.

3. Under History settings, click Web & App Activity.

4. Click on the Google Assistant icon under See and delete activity.

5. Click Auto-delete and choose the interval at which you want your voice history deleted. (You can choose either a 3-month, 18-month or 36-month interval.)

How to turn off voice and audio activity

You can stop Google from saving your voice recordings and audio activity through your Google account settings. However, it will cause voice searching with Google Assistant (including Google Home speakers) to stop working until you re-enable it.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Here's how to do it on PC: 

1. Go to myactivity.google.com

2. Click the settings bars in the top left. 

3. Select Activity controls in the menu. 

4. Toggle Include Audio Recordings on or off. 

5. Google will ask if you're sure and tell you a bit more about what pausing voice and audio means. If you still want to do it, click I Agree. If you don't, click No thanks. 

Here's how to do it on the mobile app (you can also follow the PC steps and do it on mobile browser): 

1. Open the Google Home app.

2. Tap the profile icon in the top right.

3. Tap My Activity.

4. Tap Saving Activity.

5. Toggle Include Audio Recordings on or off. 

Ready to clean up the rest of your digital footprints? Here's how to find and delete everything Google has collected about you and how to lock down your Google Nest privacy settings. Plus, five smart speaker settings to change right away and every Google Assistant command.