Whether it’s streaming your favorite songs or reminding you of your morning meeting, a smart speaker is an essential component of many smart homes. However, when you purchase a digital voice assistant, you’re essentially purchasing a device that records and stores everything you say. What happens to these voice recordings? And who has access to them?
By default, Amazon records all of your interactions with Alexa and stores them in the Amazon cloud. Amazon uses these voice recordings to improve your user experience, but it’s still sobering to think that Amazon has access to hundreds, or potentially even thousands, of voice recordings made within the privacy of your own home!
If you’re concerned about privacy, Amazon does provide several ways to allow you to remove your voice recordings from their library.
1. Automatically delete old recordings
By default, Alexa will store your voice recordings indefinitely, but you can set up Alexa to auto-delete your recordings after three or 18 months.
By enabling auto-delete, you can be confident that all of your voice recordings will eventually be deleted, without any further input from you.
To enable auto-delete of your voice recordings:
2. In the upper-left corner, tap the “Menu” icon.
3. Navigate to “Settings -> Alexa Privacy -> Manage Your Alexa Data.”
4. Tap “Automatically delete recordings.”
5. Specify whether your recordings should be deleted after three months or 18 months, and then tap “Confirm.”
Now Alexa will automatically delete all of your recordings as soon as they hit the three-month or 18-month mark.
2. Delete (and listen to!) all your recordings via the Alexa app
You can delete individual vocal recordings via the Amazon Alexa mobile app, which is useful if there’s specific recordings you want to remove. For example, perhaps you used Alexa to order your partner’s birthday present or to book a table at their favorite restaurant – don’t risk them stumbling across a recording of you arranging their surprise!
By accessing voice recordings via the Amazon Alexa app, you can delete individual recordings, but you can also delete all the recordings made within a specific time period, such as all the recordings from the past week.
To access and delete your voice recordings via the Alexa app:
1. Tap the “Menu” icon.
2. Navigate to “Settings -> Alexa Privacy.”
3. Tap “Review Voice History.” You’ll now see a list of all the recordings made by your Alexa-enabled device. If the sound of your own voice doesn’t make you cringe too much, then you can even play these recordings by tapping a recording and then selecting its little “Play” icon.
4. To delete a specific recording, tap to select the recording in question and then tap “Delete Selected Recordings.”
Alternatively, you can delete all the recordings made within a specific period of time:
1. Open the “Date Range” drop-down.
2. Choose from the available options: Today, Yesterday, This Week, This Month, or All History.
3. Tap “Delete All Recordings for Today/Yesterday/This Week, etc.”
Alexa will now delete all the recordings that were made during this specific time frame.
3. Enable Deletion by Voice
You can also delete voice recordings using a vocal command. For example, you might say “Alexa, delete everything I said today,” and Alexa would delete all clips recorded between midnight and the time you issued the command.
Deletion by voice is disabled by default, but you can enable this feature via the Amazon Alexa app:
1. Launch the app on your smartphone or tablet.
2. Open the menu, and select “Settings.”
3. Select “Alexa Privacy.”
4. Select “Review Voice History.”
5. Find the “Enable deletion by voice” slider and push it to the “On” position.
6. Read the disclaimer, and if you accept, tap “Enable.”
You can now delete your voice history using vocal commands.
4. Log in to your Amazon account
If you access your Amazon account via your web browser, you can delete all of Alexa’s voice recordings in one fell swoop:
1. Sign in to your Amazon account.
2. In the toolbar, hover over “Actions & Lists” and select “Manage Your Content and Devices.”
3. Select “Devices” and choose your Amazon Echo device.
4. Toward the bottom of the screen, select “Delete voice recordings.”
5. Read the disclaimer, and if you accept then click “Delete.”
Amazon will now delete all of your voice recordings.
Stop Amazon employees from listening to your recordings!
In 2019, Bloomberg confirmed that Amazon employees do listen to some of the recordings collected by Alexa-enabled devices and even transcribe these recordings. This data serves a useful purpose, as it allows Amazon to improve Alexa’s recognition algorithm and deliver a better experience to its users. However, if you’d prefer to keep your voice recordings private, you can opt out of this scheme:
1. In the Alexa app, launch the menu and select “Settings.”
2. Select “Alexa Privacy -> Manage Your Alexa Data.”
3. Find the “Use Voice Recordings … ” slider and push it to the “Off” position.
4. Read the disclaimer, and if you accept, tap “Turn Off.”
Amazon will now no longer use your voice recordings in its research.
In addition to protecting your voice recordings, you will also want to prevent accidental voice purchasing with Alexa and deregister it before you give your Alexa device away.