Amazon stores all the voice commands you say to your Echo until you delete them.
Your Amazon Echo speaker is listening to you, but it also remembers what you said. CNET discovered that the Alexa digital assistant keeps a record of your voice transcriptions and even shares them, with no expiration date in sight. The text transcripts stay stored on Amazon's servers until you delete the voice recordings. Amazon is still working on removing the data from all parts of its systems when you delete your transcripts. It's unclear when that will happen.
The company asserts that the data is used to improve Amazon Echo. That's not uncommon. Apple stores anonymized Siri data for up to two years in order to improve the product. Amazon's reason is likely the same, using your data -- and everyone else's -- to improve the way Echo understands you.
However, with past slip-ups that included Alexa sending a private family conversation to a random contact, you may feel a bit uneasy about Amazon keeping your recorded commands.
"When a customer deletes a voice recording, we delete the transcripts associated with the customer's account of both of the customer's request and Alexa's response," Amazon said in a statement. "We already delete those transcripts from all of Alexa's primary storage systems, and we have an ongoing effort to ensure those transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa's other storage systems."
Here's what you can do to make sure they're (almost) completely deleted.
To delete your recordings, go to the Amazon Echo app. Open Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History.
You'll see a list of all the requests you've made since setting up your Echo. You can choose the recordings you want to delete or tap Delete All Recordings for Today.
You can also delete all recordings in the Alexa app by customizing a date range, or by choosing "All History" to delete it all.
If you're using a browser, there's a way to delete all voice data in one fell swoop. Head to www.amazon.com/myx, sign in, and click Your Devices. Find your Echo in the list, then click Delete Voice Recordings.
You'll see a warning message explaining why you might want to keep those recordings; click Delete if you wish to proceed.
You can also use your voice to ask Alexa to delete everything you've said that day or entirely. Just say something like "Alexa, delete everything I said today."
This should take care of both the voice recordings and transcripts, in addition to deleting Alexa's response, according to Amazon. However, those transcripts still exist in other parts of Amazon's servers, so it's not a complete erasure yet.
To completely remove your voice recordings and transcriptions, you can also contact Amazon customer service at (888) 280-4331 to make a formal request.
In the Amazon Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Account > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History. Tap the arrow on the audio file you want to listen to and tap the play icon.
You can also visit https://www.amazon.com/alexaprivacy and click Review Voice History.
Originally published Jan. 22, 2015. Updated multiple times with new information.
Update, July 3, 2019: Adds new information about Amazon's policy on storing transcripts.