Amazon is now letting users opt of human or a manual review of their Alexa voice recordings. The move comes after Apple recently faced criticism, when it came to light that Siri voice recordings were being shared with employees as part of a grading program. Apple has since then suspended the program, which was seen as a privacy violation.
Amazon’s review of Alexa voice recordings was first reported in April by Bloomberg, which highlighted how the company had thousands of employees listening to Alexa voice recordings as part of the efforts to improve the voice-assistant’s response. After the backlash against Apple, Amazon is also offering more controls.
Apple had already said that in the future it will let users opt out of the grading program for Siri. This will mean that users will be able to ensure that their recordings are not sent to human contractors for further analysis.
In Amazon’s Alexa app, there is a new setting where users can now remove their recordings from being analyzed by the company’s employees and contract workers. Amazon in a statement to Bloomberg said, “We take customer privacy seriously and continuously review our practices and procedures. We’ll also be updating information we provide to customers to make our practices more clear.”
Here’s how you can turn off the option in your Amazon Alexa app settings
Go to the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone. You can also turn off the option from the Amazon India website. The app is required to connect your Echo speaker and is available on both iOS and Android.
In the side menu on your Alexa App, go to Settings. At the bottom, there is tab called Alexa Privacy. Tap on this. On the Amazon website, go to your Account tab>Content and Devices>Alexa Privacy Tab.
You will see four options in the Alexa privacy tab both in the app and the website. Review Voice History, Manager Smart Home Devices History, Manage Skill Permissions and Manage how your data improves Alexa.
Tap on the ‘Manage how your data improves Alexa,’ which is right at the bottom. Make sure you have the latest version of the app or restart if you cannot see the setting.
In the ‘Manage how your data improves Alexa,’ you will see the option to turn off improving Amazon Services and Develop new feature. Toggle it off, because it will be turned on by default.
Amazon’s page says for using voice recordings has this explanation for how these are used.
Training Alexa with recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone. With this setting on, your voice recordings may be used to develop new features and manually reviewed to help improve our services. Only an extremely small fraction of voice recordings are manually reviewed.
Once you turn it off, Amazon also says that “voice recognition and new features may not work well for you.”
There is another option for turning off the uses of Messages to improve transcriptions. This is applied for messages that are sent via Alexa, where the user tells the voice assistant to type out a message. If you do not want this, just toggle off the ‘Allow Amazon to use messages you send with Alexa to improve transcription accuracy.’
How to auto delete voice recordings from Alexa
This option is also available on Amazon’s Alexa privacy settings. In the Alexa Privacy tab, click on the ‘Review Voice History’ option.
Turn on the ‘enable deletion by voice.’ Once you turn this on, it will allow you to delete recordings by saying “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”
Amazon also warns that when enabled, anyone with access to your Alexa devices can tell Alexa to delete voice recordings from your account by saying “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”
How to review voice recordings in Alexa
This option is also available in the same tab.
Just click on the date range and all your recordings will show.
You can choose to delete your entire voice recording in one go. Or delete recordings individually.
Amazon is not the only company adding more privacy control to voice settings. Google has also decided to stop manual reviews of voice recordings after investigations from the German privacy regulator.