Is Your Google Home Really Recording Your Conversations
An increasing number of people are purchasing virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. As virtual assistants, these devices, by design, record and learn the tone of your voice. Doing so improves the overall voice recognition and other features of the device.
Listening well is a feature, not a bug. But, does listening and recording cross the line? We’d certainly say someone who scooted up close to listen in on a private conversation was snooping. In fact, most of us would call that person out or at least stop our conversation until we were sure we could continue with some measure of privacy. Just ask any parent who stops an “adult conversation” when a child enters the room.
Wanting and expecting this same feature from a virtual assistant isn’t unrealistic. I’d actually go as far as to argue that we could be outraged at the thought of any device unknowingly recording our conversation. Yet, there have been reports this year of that very thing happening with Amazon’s Echo speaker.
Many of my friends asked me if I was concerned about this happening with my Google Home. I didn’t just take stock in what I read, I gave it a test myself. I’ve whispered, I’ve asked questions without using my trigger words, and I’ve dug into my Google account to see what Google has stored. I’ve also paid attention to ads I’m being served based on what I’ve told Google Home.
So, is there really cause for concern? Is your Google Home really recording your conversations?
See What Google Home Has Recorded
Log in to your Google account and click your profile picture in the top right. Then click on “Google Account,”
This will take you to you Google Account Overview page. Go to the center column “Personal info & privacy” and click on “Manage your Google activity.”
In the “Review activity” section click on “Go to my activity.”
Here is where you will see the activity page. This is the record Google has on all queries you’ve made to Google search, Assistant on your phone, and Google Home. It’s basically your entire Google search history.
It shows maps, Internet searches, Internet activities, and everything you’ve asked Google to help you find/search. If you are a heavy Google user, it might seem overwhelming. But, you can easily filter activities by selecting a Google product, an app, or a date. It’s easy to check the history of your Google Home. To do so select “filter by date and product.”
Then check Google Assistant
The ability to filter inquiries is useful if you use Google often and want to make certain your Google Home isn’t accidentally recording conversations it shouldn’t.
From here you can also delete any searches. It’s also helpful when your inquisitive toddler discovers Google loves answering questions. Twenty questions from your adorable toddler about dinosaurs could explain those Google ads for every dinosaur product imaginable to man. The ability to find and delete inquiries is an easy way to remove those ads.
Clicking on “Details” on the left, under each query, allows you to see which of your devices received the query. This is especially helpful if you have multiple family members using the Google Home devices in your house. Hitting the play button lets you hear the voice command which triggered the Google Assistant. So, it gives you the opportunity to check to see if your Google Home device is being activated when it shouldn’t. I personally didn’t find my device did this. It was reassuring. I do plan to put checking this on my monthly tech tasks list.
Note how accurate the location is.
If you feel slightly uncomfortable over your coordinate location being noted with each recording, you have a few options to permanently delete the recordings.
To delete one recording, go back to the details for that recording. Click on the three vertical dots in the top right-hand corner. Then select “Delete.”
If you want to delete all queries for a select period of time (a day, a month, or a full year), click the hamburger icon on the “Today” header.
Or, select “Delete activity by” on the left-hand side of the page. Here, you can delete by the day, set a date range, or select all time. You can also delete queries by product. Deleting queries by product is an easy way to remove questions your children have asked their device if you’re uncomfortable with Google keeping a record of the questions and location for your child’s Google searches.
Once you hit delete, you’ll see a final warning note from Google. This is just a reminder that once you hit the “Delete” button again, the data you delete can’t be recovered. There is no undo button. There’s no trash can to retrieve it from. It’s gone.
You can learn more about how Google handles your data. And, learn what privacy options you have for your Google account.
After months of checking, I found Google is recording my conversations. But, Google is recording exactly the conversations it’s supposed to be recording. There were no sneaky spying recordings happening. And I love the fact that I can easily go into my Google account at any time to check and clean up any activity in my Google account.
We love our Google Home. And, we’ll be adding additional Google Home devices around our home soon!
What do you think? Do you still have concerns when it comes to Google Home recording conversations in your home? Have you had a different experience when you checked your Google activity report?