Alexa’s audio deletion feature does not completely clear your data from company servers, Amazon admits

Senator Chris Coons, a US Democrat, raised concerns regarding Alexa storing users data and the reply from Amazon confirms that it holds transcripts even if you delete audio files

By Digit NewsDesk | Published 04 Jul 2019 13:25 IST
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Senator Chris Coons, a US Democrat, raised concerns regarding Alexa storing users data.

  • The reply from Amazon confirms that it holds transcripts even if you delete audio files.

Alexa’s audio deletion feature does not completely clear your data from company servers, Amazon admits
Alexa’s audio deletion feature does not completely clear your data from company servers, Amazon admits

Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy, Brian Huseman, in a letter to Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat leader from Delaware, confirmed that the company’s smart assistant Alexa holds transcripts of audio records even after they are deleted by users. The letter from Coons raised concerns regarding the user data being stored on Amazon servers and the time period for which the data is held by the company. The letter from Huseman reveals that Amazon keeps a record of voice interactions until the user manually chooses to delete them. Albeit, with some exceptions.

The letter dated June 28 reads, "We retain customers' voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them. When a customer deletes a voice recording, we delete the transcripts associated with the customer's account of both of the customer's requests and Alexa's response." 

You do have the option to delete all your data if you intend to. But wait, does Amazon clear all your data after you manually choose to delete it?

The answer is, No. the letter mentions that in some cases, transcripts will be held even if users remove the audio files. The company says "we may still retain other records of customers' Alexa interactions, including records of actions Alexa took in response to the customer's request."

Amazon claims that it stores recordings and transcripts so as to provide transparency to its consumers regarding what Alexa ‘thought it heard’ and what Alexa provided as a response. It also stores data to train its machine learning systems to better understand the variations of speech “based on region, dialect, context, environment, and the individual speaker, including their age.”

Finally, the company says that it is making efforts to ensure that transcripts do not remain in any of Alexa’s or Amazons storage systems.

This is how you can remove Alexa’s audio recordings

To delete specific recordings:

Go to the Amazon Echo app and tap on Settings. Next, tap on Alexa Privacy and select Review Voice History. You'll see a list of all the requests you've made since setting up your Echo. To delete a recording, tap it, then tap Delete voice recordings.

To delete all recordings:

Visit Amazon's Content and Devices page to erase all of your recordings at once. There, select Your Devices, click on the Alexa device you want to clean up and select Manage Voice Recordings. Finally, select the option that allows you to delete everything.

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