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Arizona tech expert shows how to turn off smart speaker audio recordings

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PHOENIX — Alexa, Siri and Google — oh my!

Smart speakers have become commonplace in many households, but there continues to be a growing concern when it comes to privacy — or lack of — once you introduce one of these speakers to your home.

After a recent push for stricter privacy laws in Europe, Amazon reminded customers there are ways to opt out of Alexa recording you… kind of.

Ken Colburn with Data Doctors told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday there are two settings to be aware of when opting out: recorded history and human reviews.

“You can go into the Alexa app and actually delete the history,” he said. “So the stuff that you basically have said, that they have a recording of, you can say, “hey, I’d like to have that removed.”

Colburn said the human review portion is a little different.

“As good as computers are at recognizing voice it’s not even close to what a human is,” he said. “There are third party contractors with all these companies that specialize in this, that can basically break down what was actually being said so that it’s being properly translated by the AI and machine learning. These computers are learning how humans interact through voice.”

He said the reason for this isn’t meant to steal your data but rather to perfect these voice enabled systems.

“That’s the big race in technology right now, is to be the leader in voice recognition because that’s going to replace the key board, it’s going to replace us taping on screens,” Colburn explained. “So, that’s the big dog fight going on right now. So, the more information they can pull into their system the better, which is why they’re grabbing any and all bits of data to improve their system.”

If you do want to remove your recordings go into the settings portion of your Alexa app. From there, select “Alexa privacy,” then click “manage how your data improves Alexa.” Then you will see a menu screen that lays out your options.

Unfortunately, Colburn said, even if you do opt out of these recordings, it won’t really change much.

“I’m personally not really worried about the privacy issue,” he said. “If you are, then you need to stop using credit cards, stay off the Internet and I’m not really sure where you should live. This notion of being private in the digital age is pretty tough to do.”

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