Did you know that Google has been recording you without your knowledge? Some of your most intimate conversations might be sitting in a Google data centre somewhere. Just talking is enough to activate the recordings – but thankfully there’s an easy way of hearing and deleting them.
The technology giant has effectively turned millions of its users’ smartphones into listening devices that can capture intimate conversations — even when they aren’t in the room.
The company quietly records many of the conversations that people have around its products.
The feature works as a way of letting people search with their voice, and storing those recordings presumably lets the technology giant improve its language recognition tools as well as the results that it gives to people.
If you own an Android phone, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s Assistant, which is similar to Apple’s Siri.
Google says it only turns on and begins recording when you utter the words “OK Google”. It regularly switches on the microphone as you go about your day-to-day activities, none the wiser. Once Google is done recording, it uploads the audio files to its computer servers — often dubbed “the cloud”.
These files are accessible from absolutely anywhere in the world — as long as you have an internet connection. That means any device that is signed into your personal Gmail or Google account can access the library of your deepest, darkest secrets.
So if you’re on a laptop right now and signed into Gmail — you could have a listen.
Recordings last around 10-20 seconds on average, and a text version of the conversation is saved.
The Silicon Valley giant states on its terms and conditions that it keeps these recordings for “improving speech recognition against all Google products that use your voice”.
After the Sun Online presented examples of the voice recognition flaws to Google, a spokesman said: “We only process voice searches after the phone believes the hot word ‘OK Google’ is detected. Audio snippets are used by Google to improve the quality of speech recognition across Search.”
But it also comes with an easy way of listening to and deleting all of the information that it collects. That’s done through a special page that brings together the information that the technology giant has on you.
It’s found by heading to Google’s history page and looking at the long list of recordings. The company has a specific audio page and another for activity on the web, which will show you everywhere Google has a record of you being on the internet.