Living in a dystopian hellscape where technology rules and nothing is private as we do, the idea that tech companies own vast, vast amounts of data on us is not that much of a surprise. And we’re pretty willing to give them this data, on the most part: just think how many selfies and group shots you’ve happily uploaded to Facebook, how prepared you are to Google pretty much anything, how casually you talk about intimate things in front of Siri, Alexa or Google Home.
We’re all so complacent about it, in fact, that many of us aren’t even aware of exactly what these companies are storing - or where. And, it turns out: yes, Google is listening to you, and you can even listen back to what they’re heard.
Many of us use voice to search for things with our phone: you may not be surprised that all of those searches are stored. But accidental searches are also stored – searches that contain private conversations, in some cases.
The good news is that you can listen back to these recordings yourself, and delete them.
For ‘voice and audio’ head to: https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity?restrict=vaa
And you can see, listen to and delete everything.
There’s also - even more horrifyingly, maybe - a comprehensive list of EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER SEARCHED ON GOOGLE. And it does not make pretty reading, my friends. It really does not.
For all the information Google is collecting on you head to: https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
There’s the time, for example, I googled “jedward wet” at 6am on New Year’s Day 2012, the word “noodles” at 4pm on a Thursday, or “what is a hazard” the day before I took my hazard perception driving test. (I failed, by the way. Obviously I failed.)
Other features on My Activity include a ‘timeline’ - basically a map showing you everywhere you’ve ever been (apparently useful for when you’ve been out and don’t know where you’ve been, according to one of my colleagues, who definitely doesn’t need to get his shit together).
All of this data can be deleted – either individually or en masse – so get clicking.
Want to stop your phone recording everything? Head to: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols and deselect the elements you don’t want it to track