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How to See Everything You've Said to Google -- And Delete It

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 21, 2015 1:57 PM

"OK Google, you can stop recording our conversation now."

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Google's voice services create a record of what you've said. The company, after all, already records and stores your search and browsing activity. The company knows more about you than your mother. Luckily, though, it's not too hard to find and get rid of Google's audio trail.

What Voice and Audio Activity Google Stores

If you're concerned that Google may have picked up potentially confidential information, or if you just like your privacy, you might want to look into Google's voice and audio policy. Every time you say "OK Google," to activate Google's voice services, or touch a microphone icon, Google keeps a record.

It's not just a recording of what you say to Google that's kept either. According to the company, they pick up not just your speech and audio instructions, but sound from "a few seconds before." That's right; Google is listening even before you activate it. So even if you're not using Google audio for confidential purposes, it could possibly pick up privileged information spoken directly before you engage Google's audio features.

A quick test seemed to show that Google doesn't save voice dictation in Google Docs. That tracking could simply have been delayed, however. Not all voice and audio activity shows up instantly in your account. If you've been using Google Doc's voice capture features to dictate client notes or other confidential information there, however, it's worth checking you voice and audio activity data to make sure Google doesn't have a separate record of your voice commands.

You don't need to be connected to the Internet to have audio saved, either. If you're offline, but signed in to your Google account and have your voice and audio activity turned on, recordings will still be saved.

Seeing, Hearing, and Deleting Your Voice Activity

Google makes it relatively easy to see what information it has been storing. In your account profile, under personal information and privacy, you can manage your account's activity controls. Looking at "your voice searches and commands" will let you see, listen to, and delete Google's recordings. You can even have it stop creating a record of your audio in your account. Just turn voice and audio activity off (or "pause" it, in Google-speak).

But it's not easy to silence Google's recordings for good. So long as you use and voice and audio features, Google will keep a record. If you've turned voice and audio activity off, any voice searches will still be stored by Google, just using anonymous identifiers unconnected to your account. If you want to stop Google from keeping a record altogether, the only option is to stop using Google's voice and audio services.

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