- Amazon stores voice recordings and transcripts from interactions with Alexa speakers indefinitely unless customers delete them; and even then, some information can be retained by Amazon.
- Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a letter in May with questions about how long Alexa stores voice recordings; he received a response from Amazon VP of Public Policy Brian Huseman on Friday.
- “Amazon’s response leaves open the possibility that transcripts of user voice interactions with Alexa are not deleted from all of Amazon’s servers, even after a user has deleted a recording of his or her voice,” Sen. Coons said.
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A letter from Amazon to a US senator last week reveals that Amazon stores voice recordings and transcripts from interactions with the Alexa voice assistant indefinitely unless customers manually delete them. Even then, some Alexa-related information can be retained by Amazon.
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a letter in May with questions about how long Alexa stores voice recordings. Brian Husemen, vice president of public policy at Amazon, sent a response letter to Coons on Friday.
Huseman wrote in the letter that Amazon can “retain customers’ voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them.” However, deleting your Alexa recordings doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the information is no longer in Amazon’s hands.
“We may still retain other records of customers’ Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to the customer’s request,” Huseman wrote.
The data that can be kept includes a record of requests of using Alexa to access outside services, like calling an Uber. It also stores some data around recurring requests to Alexa, like anniversary reminders.
Huseman explained that in Amazon’s view, this residual information storage is ultimately to the customer’s benefit, as it improves Alexa’s machine learning systems.
“To work well, machine learning systems need to be trained using real world data. Speech is nuanced, dynamic, and has tremendous variation based on region, dialect, context, environment, and the individual speaker,” Huseman wrote. “Training Alexa with voice recordings and transcripts from a diverse range of customers help sensure Alexa works well for everyone.”
Sen. Coons says that this means that even if a user deleting their Alexa voice recordings, it doesn’t mean that information is then totally unavailable to Amazon.
“Amazon’s response leaves open the possibility that transcripts of user voice interactions with Alexa are not deleted from all of Amazon’s servers, even after a user has deleted a recording of his or her voice,” Senator Coons said in a statement to CNET.
How to delete your Alexa recordings:
Users can learn more about managing voice recordings for Alexa devices by visiting the “Alexa Privacy Hub” online.
To review voice recordings and delete them individually or all at once:
- Visit Amazon’s website and click “Alexa Privacy Settings.”
- Click “Review Voice History” to review recordings and delete them.
To delete all of your voice recordings at once:
- Visit Amazon’s website and click “Manage Your Content and Devices.”
- Navigate to the “Your Devices” tab.
- Click the listing of your Alexa device.
- Click “Manage Voice Recordings.”
- Finally, click “Delete.”