Play all the voice commands you ever sent to Google
Voice & Audio Activity is a feature of Google History that Google users can access to list and listen to voice recordings that they have sent to Google.
While I'm not actively trying to convince others that privacy is important and should not be neglected, it is often difficult to convince others when the topic is discussed.
One of the better ways in my opinion is to point users at services on the Internet that display usage data they have collected about users.
One good starting point is the Google Account history which visualizes data that Google has collected in the past and made available in the interface that is accessible on the web.
The Voice & Audio Activity website is part of Google History. It enables you to look up and even play audio recordings that you have sent to Google in the past.
If you use your voice to look up things or run commands on your Android device for instance, then you will notice that they are all listed there on the page.
To get there simply click on the following link. Please note that you need to sign in to a Google account to access the functionality.
The page lists activity by date and reminds you that only you can see the data and that you are in control of it.
Each item is listed with a transcript of what you have said, the device or service you sent the command to and the time of the activity.
The play button allows you to play back what you said right on the site. Since it is a recording that Google saves by default, you will hear your own voice.
The settings enable you to pause voice & video activity. This won't prevent you from issuing commands or using voice features that Google provides but may reduce the accuracy according to Google.
Disabling it won't affect storage of information by Google products that can be used to store your audio or voice inputs. Google may also continue to collect and store data in anonymized form.
Pausing Voice & Audio Activity may limit or disable features such as using "Ok Google" to start a voice search and reduce the accuracy of speech recognition across Google products that use your voice.
Note that this setting does not affect storage of information by Google products (like Voice) that can be used to store your audio or voice inputs. Google may also continue to collect and store audio data in an anonymized way.
Remember, pausing this setting doesn't delete any previous activity, but you can view, edit and delete your privateÂ Voice & Audio Activity data anytime.
Selecting the Delete options on the other hand enables you to delete voice and audio activity for the current day, yesterday, or an advanced time period (last four weeks or all time).
If you value privacy, you may find it rather scary that Google saves all your voice and audio activity on its servers. Others may find reassurance that Google has opened its books and lets them see what the company has stored about them.
Since Google admits that it may record audio activity even if you have paused the feature, the only option to block the company from doing so is to not use voice controls or commands.
Tip: Check out the activity controls page to manage other activity that Google records.
They hype these services like they’re some amazing solution to a problem and all the data collecting is necessary to make things profusely better for the end user, however whenever I experiment with them I just find them rather pointless and not useful at all during real world usage. It kinda makes me question whether the whole purpose is really that it just gives them plausible deniability for gross surveillance and data collection.
I assume even if you delete the data, it’s only from yourself you are deleting it from and they still keep the data themselves? I know with Bing/Cortana they say “Clearing your history removes it from the Search History service and prevents that history from being displayed on the site, but does not delete information from our search logs”. I think they keep IP addresses for 6 months and other identifiers for at least 18 months.
So apart from the people who do like and use these types of services, I think the best thing to do is just turn all this stuff off and carry on as normal. It’s just annoying that people have to run around turning all this off, when there should be a single privacy switch that changes all the privacy setting defaults to opt-in, rather than opt-out.
The opt-in or opt-out question is an interesting one, and goes to show the differences between how America and Europe (maybe RoW) treat data collection and privacy, afaik in America the earnest is on the consumer to opt-out, to be aware that companies are collecting data on them and they have to specifically state they want to opt-out, rather strange for a country that prides itself on freedom of speech, freedom from government interference and all those other freedoms.
Conversely Europe and maybe the rest of the world take a stance that the default should be not to collect data on people without their explicit consent, in other words a default position of not collecting data and having to ask for consent should they wish to collect data on an individual and what the extent of that data gathering is going to be.
On one hand, I kind of expected this, on the other hand that’s kinda scary to see (or hear) everything you searched for via voice.
I am really torn with all of this, I mean here you have a company (which i’m sure any company using voice search like Cortana or Siri) saving all voice recording and soon they will be able to completely ID you just on your voice, but on the other hand the way the world moves and technology progresses it’s just how it goes…
Regardless I deleted all of my history (kind of a shame you couldn’t download it all). Does that mean I will stop using it? nah…
I turned off the settings about a year ago. I just checked and, surprisingly, they are still turned off. Good job Google.
It is actually hilarious if you look for the “Transcript not available” listings, as you will hear yourself swearing at Google for not having the answer you want.
Good article. I have had arguments with people on the Internet claiming that Google doesn’t not store your voice commands and I’m stupid even to think that, since they don’t have the storage space to store people’s voices.
Joke’s on them.
Yes and no.
Yes they would like to keep it all , but Google is still a company and in such they will not keep useless data hanging around for naught.
If a user says don’t keep it AND if the searches and stuff are of no (longer) use for Google they will get deleted.
Even if they got pretty good algorithms, compression and search capabilities, it is never a good thing to keep useless data hanging around and slowing down everything else.
I am sure this concept will one day crop up in a detective film, such as Midsomer Murders. Somebody will record a request to Google, that will later incriminate them. Quite fascinating.