Voice activated assistants are everywhere, but they may reveal more than you intend. Many of the major tech companies including Amazon, Google, and Apple have admitted to allowing human employees or contractors to listen to recordings in an effort to improve their services. There have also been instances of voice assistants activating accidentally, and at least one case of data mistakenly being recorded and sent without the consumer’s consent to a random contact in their address book.
Concerned? You should be. But there are ways to minimize your risks. Tech companies have responded to consumer backlash by providing more detailed information about when and how voice recordings are used, and offering better tools to manage your data.
If you use a voice assistant, I strongly recommend you review the settings for your device, and lock down your security as appropriate. If you are not using a voice assistant, for example on your phone, you should disable it. Here are links to the relevant support sites for Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
- Amazon Alexa Privacy Settings
- Amazon: Review Your Voice Recordings
- Amazon: Manage Your Alexa Privacy Settings
- Amazon: Alexa and Alexa Device FAQs
- Amazon: Disable Smart Home Devices from Alexa
- Manage Google Voice & Audio Activity
- How to Disable Google Assistant on Android and Smart Home Devices (via DigitalTrends)
- Apple Siri Privacy & Grading
- Apple: Improving Siri’s Privacy Protections
- How To Disable Siri on MacOS and iOS (via LifeWire)
- Microsoft Privacy Statement on Cortana
- Microsoft Account Privacy Options
- How to Disable Cortana (via HowToGeek)
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