How to keep Amazon, Apple, and Google from listening to your Alexa, Siri, and Assistant recordings

Yes, your Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are listening to you, and it turns out that the smart speakers can record what you say and share those recordings with Amazon and Google employees.

The reason: so Amazon and Google can analyze the responses of their virtual assistants and “manually review them” (in the obtuse parlance of too many privacy disclaimers) to “help improve our services.”

In other words, someone may be listening, and while it’s a given that smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant can’t improve without help from humans analyzing their accuracy, tech companies need to do a far better job of telling users what they’re up to.

In the wake of revelations that Apple was letting contractors listen to Siri recordings without properly notifying users, Amazon and Google are rolling out new privacy settings that let you “opt out” of allowing third parties from reviewing your Alexa and Assistant voice recordings.

Both Apple and Google have suspended their respective “grading” programs pending a review and Apple has promised to eventually launch new privacy settings to allow users to keep anyone else from hearing their Siri voice recordings.

But if you’re an Amazon Echo or Google Home user, you can shut the door on “human review” of your voice recordings right now. Here’s how to do it.

amazon alexa voice recordings Ben Patterson/IDG

You can opt out of “manual review” of your Alexa voice recordings by toggling off this setting.

Amazon Alexa

Open the Amazon Alexa app for Android or iOS, then tap Menu > Settings > Alexa Privacy.

Tap Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa, then turn off the toggle next to Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features.

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