For a long time, it was assumed that Google would never record any voice search performed on an Android device via ‘OK Google’. As it turns out, Google keeps a record of your voice commands. In a link shared by Google itself, a startling revelation was found that all your voice commands provided on Android’s “OK Google” service have been recorded and stored by the company. Recorded voice message logs are kept away from the rest of the search history.
While this shouldn’t be entirely surprising, this is the first time Google’s Log-Keeping Act has been published. “OK, Google” is triggered by a voice command of the same word, and it’s a convenient way for users to find information on countless topics. For example, I checked the distance between Leicester City and London on March 5, at 7:40 pm. As an iOS user for the most part, my search history is reasonably clear and contains no information that I should be careful about sharing. For one (especially older) of my peers using Android, the situation is not very clear.
My voice log: Strange, innit?
A number of these service providers have been known for such practices. For example, Amazon’s Echo, a voice assistant-powered connected home speaker, collects data from voice commands given to it and collects them under Alexa, a data and informatics company. It then aggregates the data to drive market statistics related to the user’s income group and purchase type. Recorded voice commands allow companies to push relevant ads to users.
While most “OK, Google” searches involve communication and location questions and may not qualify as fully sensitive content, this is still a major discussion held for user data privacy. Recorded voice commands, as Google says, are strictly available to you. But, obviously, Google can access your voice searches. While your phone won’t automatically record every word you say, “OK, Google” can be activated in any voice command, like the phrase. A wrong-pressing of a button can activate the voice assistant, in which case a compromising part of your personal conversation can be recorded.
An Android-loving friend: more frequently, more data
Until now, Google offers you ways to delete voice commands, although your inputs are likely to remain in Google’s logs. Google already includes scanners to store large amounts of personal search and location data from its users, and the presence of voice commands in the list adds more information to the log that Google maintains for its users. Now what you see is the possibility of deleting any information that you think is sensitive. Will this affect privacy in the long run? Only time will tell.