When you bring a smart speaker into your home, you’re offering up all sorts of personal data to Amazon, Google, Microsoft and the rest. Here at The Ambient, we’re excited about the future of voice controlled apartments and houses but we’re also into helping people manage their smart home data.
Sound like the kind of chore you’d rather get an AI assistant to do? Sorry, kids, this one requires your very human attention.
Get connected: The best Alexa connected devices
You will no doubt have all sorts of reasons to want to delete your interactions with Alexa - we’re not going to pry - but remember that part of the voice assistant’s power and usefulness comes from what it learns about you. So unless you’re giving Echo the boot, you’re essentially making the service less useful.
How to view and delete Alexa voice recordings
Amazon makes it a little tricky, though not impossible, to view, manage and delete voice recordings from its Alexa service.
The best way to deal with your data is via the Alexa app. Here, go to Settings then General then History.
You are presented with a list of interactions which you can view as transcripts or click ‘Play’ to listen to the audio recording. (Best to do this out of range of the smart speaker for obvious reasons).
If you find a recording you want to delete, hit ‘delete voice recordings’. This removes the audio file and any related Home screen cards in the Alexa app.
For instance, it’s not that surprising to find conversations that were not intended for Alexa - remember, wake words include ‘Echo’ and ‘Computer’.
Echo speakers also store a few seconds before the wake up command too.
Your entire history
To delete your entire history of Alexa interactions, go to ‘Manage Your Content and Devices’ on Amazon’s website, while logged in.
You can then select the smart speaker you own, and under ‘Device Actions’ the options are: Deregister, Manage Voice Recordings and Manage Scanned Images.
If you click Manage Voice Recordings, you are presented with a message about how Amazon uses your voice recordings and an option to bulk delete them or cancel. You can’t listen to or view interactions here.
Here’s the official instructions from Amazon
Can I delete Alexa voice recordings entirely?
It’s worth noting that Amazon isn’t clear on whether this permanently removes the recordings from its own servers and not just the individual’s account log.
Nowhere in its Alexa policies does it confirm this so we will assume this means this is not currently possible.
In summer 2017, it was reported that Amazon was considering sharing transcripts with third party Alexa Skill developers.
And there have been a number of criminal cases where Amazon has been asked to, but refused to, hand over pertinent Alexa recordings.
Ultimately, we’d like to see more transparency from Amazon as well as a voice search equivalent to Google’s Right To Be Forgotten request.
The person talking in their own home is allowing Amazon access to their data, for advertising and other commercial purposes, that’s a given but who is to say this should be forever?
Can other people access/delete my Alexa conversations?
Good question. Anyone with your Amazon password can access your audio logs via the website or the Alexa app.
On desktop, it looks like they would only be able to bulk delete all recordings - not view/listen to them.
As we discussed above, delete all is the only action currently presented. If someone else got hold of your phone or signs in to the Alexa app with your credentials, though, this would in theory allow them to view your Alexa history, press play on interactions to listen and delete individual recordings.