Hired employees from Google, Amazon and Apple listened to voice commands from users. In various cases it is possible to delete the searches.
Tech companies with speech assistants were in the news lately, when it turned out that hired employees of the companies sometimes listened to users. Dutch recordings via Siri and Google Assistant were also listened to.
The audio's are listened to by people to improve the assistants. For example, it must be considered whether the user is well understood and whether the assistant understands the context.
Recent news reports showed that the audio's were traceable in some cases, for example because a name or address was spoken. As a user you have some influence on what happens to the data if you give an assistant a (search) assignment by voice.
See also: Apple listens to Dutch Siri recordings, company stops project
It is possible at Google to gain insight into recorded voice messages. For example, on a Google Activity Options page, you can see which voice and audio activity has been recorded. For example, it concerns searches or dictated messages.
In an overview you can see the voice commands that were once executed and you can listen to them. That can be reached via your Google account.
This way you delete recordings with Google Assistant
- Go to your Google account
- Click on 'Data and personalization' in the left menu
- In the 'Activity options' pane, go to 'Speech and audio activity'
- You switch off voice recordings via a switch
- Click on to 'Manage activity' to see a recording overview
In the overview you can delete recordings one by one or listen to them again. The archive can go back to years. You cannot delete all voice messages at once, so cleaning up the overview can be a big job.
Amazon Alexa does not speak Dutch at the moment, but the assistant is available in the Netherlands, for example via the Echo speaker. Users can say English commands or ask questions.
Amazon has the Alexa Privacy page, on which audio's can be removed.
This is how you delete recordings from Amazon Alexa
- Go to Alexa Privacy
- Click on 'Review Voice History'
- Click on 'Date Range' to change the recording period
- Select the arrow next to the command to delete the recording
It is also possible to delete all recordings in one go. On the page you can also choose to delete recordings via a new voice command. For this, 'Enable deletion by voice' must be switched on. The user then says, for example, "Alexa, delete everything I said today" or "Alexa, delete what I just said".
Apple's speech assistant is a somewhat more complex case. Recordings are saved without linking to an Apple ID, making it impossible for users to find their own recordings. Apple has no special page where the excerpts can be found. There are also no options for deleting voice commands.
It is possible to delete the Siri search history, but the speech assistant must be deactivated for this.
This way you delete recordings from Siri
- Open the Settings app on the iPhone
- Choose 'Siri and search'
- Switch off 'Listen to Hé Siri' and 'Press the side button for Siri'
- Tap on "Switch off Siri"
- Go to 'General'
- Tap "Keyboard"
- Turn off "Enable dictation."
This erases history. Apple has indicated (for the time being) to stop collecting audio via Siri. If you call in the assistant again, Apple should no longer hear the new recordings.