2020 Update: Although nearly two years old, all of the information in this article is still relevant. It is important to know if your Alexa can record audio; scroll down to find out how.
If you have an Amazon Echo, chances are you’re fully aware of the convenience it offers. It’s no wonder over 100 million have been sold since they debuted in 2014! You can ask the Amazon Echo for the latest news, find out the weather report, shop for items on Amazon, and even play your favorite songs without having to lift a finger—and those are just built-in functions!
Delving deeper into what Alexa is capable of, there are countless third-party integrations, including Brinks Home Security ™. While the device is revolutionizing smart home automation, and there’s no doubt that it’s an amazing tool, there is a big question on the minds of many people…is Alexa tracking what I’m saying?
While Alexa speakers are able to save and store short notes, they’re not able to record your voice or save voice memos. Many people find this odd because Alexa actually records every single word that you say. In fact, you can see all the things you’ve said by using the Alexa app on iOS or Android. You can also go to alexa.amazon.com to listen to what you’ve said and play the recordings.
Unsurprisingly, quite a few consumers are startled by the idea that Alexa is always listening to what they say. Not only is Alexa listening to what you say, but the smart speaker is also recording and saving a substantial amount of what’s said in your home. Many are comparing this to how Google and Amazon log the normal web activity of their consumers. This is a practice that both companies have been doing for years. In fact, Google and Amazon are not the only companies that do this. Home and Echo are essentially doing the same thing, but with snippets of your voice rather than search queries.
Of course, it’s understandable that many consumers are concerned about their privacy when it comes to Alexa. However, it is important to understand that recording your voice is a huge aspect of how voice assistants will function as intended.
Every time you make a voice request to your in-home voice assistant, Alexa device(s) record an audio clip of what you’re saying. The device sends the files to a server to process the audio file and create a response. By default, the recorded clips are stored and associated with your account. In order to work, Alexa devices require an Internet connection. On its own, an Alexa device only understands very simple spoken commands. These spoken commands tend to be “activation phrases” or “wake words.” Some examples include “Alexa.” Once you say these words, the voice assistant activates to capture your audio request and send it to a server over the Wi-Fi.
A side effect of this is that the mics are constantly listening — even when you’re not making an audio request! However, you can rest assured that the things you say before the activation phrases or wake words are not stored or sent to servers. Your privacy is of the utmost concern to these device manufacturers.
Not interested in having Alexa keep your voice recordings filed away? You’re not alone. Many homeowners would prefer if the smart speaker didn’t keep track of their voice commands, even if the data is used to enhance their user experience. Amazon has listened and recently updated their privacy settings so users can opt-out of voice recordings. Follow the steps below to keep your voice recordings away from Alexa. You can delete voice recordings within the Amazon Echo app, on a web browser or you can Alexa to delete the data for you.
First, open the Amazon Echo mobile application. Then, go to “Review Voice History” page by clicking Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History. Here you’ll find every voice command you’ve made since installing your Echo. Now, click and choose the recordings you wish to delete or tap “Delete All Recordings for Today.”
Log into your account
Click “Your Devices,” in this case the Amazon Echo
Click “Delete Voice Recordings”
A warning message will appear asking you to confirm your choice
Click “Delete” to carry on
This might be the simplest route for some. To complete, just say “Alexa, delete everything I said today,” or “Alexa, delete everything I’ve said entirely” and your voice commands will no longer be on the device. If none of these options seem to work for you, contact Amazon customer support for alternative solutions or more insight on how to keep Alexa from recording you.
For more information about whether Alexa can record audio, don’t hesitate to contact us at Brinks Home Security ™. Not a customer yet? You can also contact us for a free quote.
Lauren Slade is a Dallas based writer and editor.
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