Ever since Google launched its voice enabled search service, it’s been keeping a track of everything you tell your phone. Before you freak out and start imagining scenarios where Google has secretly been keeping track of everything and anything you do, let’s calm down. It’s no secret what they are keeping track of and there are ways to turn those off.
But, if you didn’t know that such a thing existed, well HELLO! It’s nice to see you wake up from your deep slumber and finally see that Google does have a lot of your information. But, rather than being fearful, here’s how you can keep track of at least one thing. Voice Commands.
Google Account History
Google has this database where you can see almost everything about you in one place. Much like a vault. A data vault with your search strings and everything else. Voice data isn’t exempt from this vault either. Whether or not you’re on Android, the following information is stored in Google’s servers –
1. Your IP Address
2. The date and time of each search request
3. The full URL you clicked on
4. Header information including browser and OS details
5. Unique cookie ID which is stored since your first visit
So, what about voice data? Well, Google has that stored on their servers for every command you’ve given. Whether or not it will remain there is still unclear, but here’s how you can access it.
You firstly need to visit your Google Account page for audio and see the information yourself. The further down you keep scrolling, the further back in time can you see the recordings. Some may have the text transcript not available on them, and these are for those occasions when Google wasn’t able to detect exactly what you were asking it.
At the time you said your command, it might’ve felt that you were saying it rightly. Or Google is just dumb, for not understanding what I’m saying here. But, when you play some of these back, you realize how the background noise makes it hard for Google to keep up with your requests. Every little bit of noise like the TV in the background, or even a fan, is a distraction. The recognition system is an AI program after all, not a human!
Should You Delete it?
Of course, you can delete all these voice commands from the very beginning. There is no shortcut here and unfortunately, you have to manually scroll the page and keep checking each day, which will in turn check all the boxes for search queries made on that day. The DELETE option then shows up on the top-right.
But is that really effective? Does it get deleted from Google’s servers too? There’s not much clarity here but if you’re paranoid about your security, then go ahead and delete all your voice clips.
Should You Turn Off Voice Controls?
Google has opened itself up and is now showing users what it has and doesn’t have stored. But, if you are concerned about your privacy then go ahead and turn off the voice control feature on your Android device. Head to Google Now, then tap the settings from the hamburger icon on the top-right. Here, tap Voice and on this screen toggle the first two off. If the 3rd option is enabled, you can disable that too.
For further peace of mind, go ahead and click Delete voice model which will essentially erase your voice training that you had given to Google to know your voice.
Rest Easy Now
If that puts you at ease, then do this right away. But, there is no doubt that Google already knows more about you than your own mom. That’s not to say that we don’t encourage our readers to take privacy issues lightly, but there’s also no need to hit the panic button. Yet.