Home TECH How to Prevent Google from Listening to Your Conversations

How to Prevent Google from Listening to Your Conversations

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Some of us are more concerned than others about what our phones are listening to and what they do with that information.

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Advertisers and data brokers already know a lot about you—they don’t need to listen to discover your secrets. But, believe me, it’s happening.

Don’t worry. I’m here to help you secure your privacy because, let’s face it, Big Tech companies aren’t.

A hidden feature in your Google account is recording audio from your web and app activity, interactions with digital assistants, and more.

Google claims they only listen for commands and to enhance marketing efforts. However, this invasion of privacy could lead to much bigger problems.

If a cybercriminal hacks into your Google account or smart devices, they can access your stored audio and voice data. From there, it’s all downhill. We’re talking about artificial intelligence voice clones that can access your sensitive accounts, scam your loved ones, or worse.

Fortunately, there’s a way to stop this. Here’s how to prevent Google from eavesdropping:

Digital Earmuffs

Google is smart, but you’re smarter. Follow these steps to protect your privacy on your phone:

  1. Open the Google app on your smartphone.
  2. Go to Manage Your Google Account and select the Data and Privacy tab, then scroll to History Settings.
  3. Select Web & App Activity. You may see a blue checkmark next to the Voice and Audio Activity setting. Uncheck it.

Now, like magic, audio recordings from your interactions with Google Search, Assistant, and Maps won’t be saved to your Google account or Google’s servers. Phew.

Deleting Previously Saved Audio Recordings

This setting change won’t delete previously saved audio recordings. You need to handle that separately.

Delete One Item at a Time:

  1. Open your Google Account.
  2. Click Data and Privacy.
  3. Under History Settings, click Web & App Activity.
  4. Click Manage Activity to review your past activities. Items with a mic icon include a recording.
  5. Next to the item you want to delete, select More, then Delete.

Delete All Items at Once:

  1. Open your Google Account.
  2. Click Data and Privacy.
  3. Under History Settings, click Web & App Activity.
  4. Click Manage Activity to review your past activities. Items with a mic icon include a recording.
  5. Above your activity, click Delete, then All Time. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Note: These steps will delete all your web and app activity associated with your Google account, not just items that include a recording.

Do Not Disturb

While you’re at it, check for other apps that might be listening in.

On iPhone:

  1. Open Settings > Privacy & Security > Microphone.
  2. Review the list of apps. Toggle the switch off to block an app from accessing your mic.

On Android:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to go to Settings.
  2. Tap the gear icon > Privacy > Permission Manager.
  3. Review the list and turn off anything you don’t want using your mic.

Phew. A few minutes of work, and now you can rest a little easier.