How to . . . limit how Amazon uses your voice data

A few settings changes can help limit what happens to your voice recordings

The Amazon Echo Plus. Photograph: iStock

The Amazon Echo Plus. Photograph: iStock

 

That smart speaker you rely on for your morning news, music and to control your smarthome may have made itself indispensable but recent news may have given some people pause for thought.

While some of us had reconciled ourselves to the idea that technology was always listening, waiting to spring into action at the mention if the appropriate “wake” word, the notion that some of the voice recordings were being sent to real people to check Amazon’s Alexa for accuracy caused some consternation.

Perhaps that wasn’t enough for you to stop using it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t limit what Amazon does with your voice data.

Go to Amazon.co .uk and log into your account. Under Account & Lists, you’ll see an option for Manage Your Content and Devices. Choose that, and select Alexa Privacy. Go to Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa, and set Help Develop New Features to off. Amazon uses recordings from different customers to hgelp develop new features; setting this to off takes you out of that particular net.

There is also an option to prevent messages you send through Alexa being used to help increase accuracy.

Every interaction you have with Alexa is saved to your Amazon account, even accidental ones that weren’t meant for the virtual assistant. To see what Amazon has linked to your account, go to Review Voice History under the same Alexa Privacy tab.

You can listen to and remove individual voice files, clear history for a day, a month or for all time. You’ll notice that some files don’t have a transcription available and are marked “audio was not intended for Alexa”. They are still stored with your account though, so you might want to delete them.