The biggest questions people typically have, is Alexa always listening? One of the biggest complaints and fear when it comes to smart home devices is that consumers feel as though their always-on device, is listening to them.
And if you think your Alexa device may be listening, you’re not wrong. According to a recent report, Amazon employs thousands of people to listen to what you say in the recording proximity of an Alexa-enabled Echo device. The workers transcribe, annotate, and then feedback anything learned into Alexa's underlying software. Amazon says this happens only with a small percentage of recordings to "improve the customer experience."
Smart assistants like Alexa are supposed to listen when triggered by a wake word or other voice command. We want our readers to be well informed about their devices, and to provide comfort when it comes to their privacy.
Here is a step by step guide on how to disable the active listening on your Alexa device.
Step 1: Open the Alexa app
Once you're in the Alexa app, click settings, Alexa account, and Alexa privacy in the menu. The Alexa privacy section gives you the chance to review your voice history, your smart alert history, your smart home devices history, your skill permissions, and how Alexa (and Amazon) use your data.
In the next steps, we'll dive into each privacy setting, including what they mean and how you can customize them to suit your needs better.
Step 2: See your voice history
Click "Review voice history" on the Alexa privacy screen. This page lets you view a log of your voice history by period. Your options include Today, Yesterday, This Week, This Month, All History and Custom.
The Custom setting lets you set a specific date range by day, month, and year.
Once you've specified the timeframe, you get a list of all of your Alexa commands. Click one to listen to it -- or select one, or multiple recordings -- and delete them. If you want to remove all of your recordings, choose "all history" for the date range, and you'll have an option to "delete all recordings for all history."
Step 3: See your alert history
Click "Review smart alert history" on the Alexa privacy screen.
"Alerts" refer to an activity you've given Alexa permission to detect and includes things like the sound of glass breaking or a smoke detector. Like the voice history settings, the Alexa app filters alert history by date range and you can either delete each alert log individually -- or delete all of them at the same time.
Step 4: See your smart home device history
Click "Manage smart home devices history" on the Alexa privacy screen.
Alexa gathers information about the third-party smart home devices you connect to your Amazon smart speaker. It collects details like whether a smart light switch is on or off and your preferred set temperature for your smart thermostat.
Select "Delete smart home devices history" to remove this data from the Alexa app.
Step 5: See your skill permissions
Click "Manage skill permissions" on the Alexa privacy screen.
This is the section that determines what information you share with the various Alexa skills you use. You might be sharing a lot of your details with Alexa without even realizing it.
Permissions include everything from your street address to your country and postal code and your name, phone number, and email address. Select each permission individually to see what skill has what information. You might be OK with Uber having your street address, but you might not. Just toggle the switch to choose the setting you want.
Step 6: See how Alexa uses your data
Click "Manage how your data improves Alexa" on the Alexa privacy screen.
This screen details how Amazon might use your voice recordings to create new Alexa features. Amazon's wording in-app is: "Training Alexa with recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone. When this setting is enabled; your voice recordings may be used in the development of new features."
Not cool with that? Toggle the switch to turn the setting off.
Amazon will also use the messages you send via Alexa to "improve transcription accuracy." Like the voice recordings, toggle the switch to turn off the setting.