Google Is Covertly Recording Your Voice — Here's What It Knows About You
"OK, Google, never forget what I'm about to tell you."
That's the hidden subtext behind every time you search, every time you watch something on YouTube, every time you buy an app, every time you browse the Web using Chrome.
Quietly buried in a remote part of your account, there is a special section of your history — accessible here — in which Google is keeping recordings of your voice each and every time you use its Siri-like search function.
"If you use voice control on a Google product, you've benefited from the fact that it stores your voice, both in aggregate (the large amount of data it harvests from users allows it to improve recognition) and in particular (by learning your specific voice, it can get better at recognizing it)," Alex Hern writes in the Guardian. "And if you use the services, you have already opted in to storing your data once (though you may not remember doing so)."
There is no way to keep Google from recording you other than simply avoiding that feature.
Google keeps a robust, private history of everything it can record. It has to: Google is still mainly a business that keeps track of data in order to sell advertisers insight into how to sell you things.
However, the company is generally good about making sure users have access to the data it keeps. In June, Google launched the "My Account" feature that lets you go back and download text files of the recordable history of your searches.
The more we live our lives through apps, phones and browsers, the more looking back through these histories — ledgers of our interests and inquiries — feels like looking back through living memories. All, of course, as recorded by a titanic, publicly traded company that's using every ounce of that data for the sake of advertising.