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23 August 2017
Google has been recording you without your knowledge
How Google is secretly recording you through your mobile, monitoring millions of conversations
GOOGLE has turned your phone into a listening device. If you know where to look, you can see what it has on you.
you run Android software on your smartphone, Google may have been
recording you every day without you knowing. Picture: Getty.
DID you know that Google has been recording you without your knowledge?
technology giant has effectively turned millions of its users’
smartphones into listening devices that can capture intimate
conversations — even when they aren’t in the room.
If you own an Android phone, it’s likely that you’ve used Google’s Assistant, which is similar to Apple’s Siri.
Google says it only turns on and begins recording when you utter the words “OK Google”.
But a Sun investigation has found that the virtual assistant is a little hard of hearing, reports The Sun.
In some cases, just saying “OK” in conversation prompted it to switch on your phone and record around 20 seconds of audio.
you run Android softwar on your smartphone, Google may have been
recording you every day without you knowing. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
It regularly switches on the microphone as you go about your day-to-day activities, none the wiser.
Once Google is done recording, it uploads the audio files to its computer servers — often dubbed “the cloud”.
These files are accessible from absolutely anywhere in the world — as long as you have an internet connection.
That means any device that is signed into your personal Gmail or
Google account can access the library of your deepest, darkest secrets.
So if you’re on a laptop right now and signed into Gmail — you could have a listen.
Apple also keeps your Siri voice recordnigns, but it says it anonymises it after 18 months. Picture: istock.Source:istock
Recordings last around 10-20 seconds on average, and a text version of the conversation is saved.
Silicon Valley giant states on its terms and conditions that it keeps
these recordings for “improving speech recognition against all Google
products that use your voice”.
A spokesman told The Sun:
“We only process voice searches after the phone believes the hot word
‘OK Google’ is detected. Audio snippets are used by Google to improve
the quality of speech recognition across Search.”
It recently launched a smart assistant, Google Home.
voice recordings from the general public will help its artificial
intelligence that runs Google Home, by teaching it how humans naturally
In simple terms: it’s a free language class for its software.
now makes hundreds of products used by billions of people across the
globe, from YouTube and Android to Smartbox and Google Search. Picture:
of annual web searches, location and email data allow it to target the
population with specialised marketing — and there is no reason why it
couldn’t do the same with your voice data, too.
So, now for the important question: how can I listen to the sound files Google has from my life?
How can I listen back to the audio Google has recorded from my phone?
It’s pretty easy.
Apple, who does not publicise any of the voice data it stores through
Siri, Google is pretty transparent — giving you full access to your
First, you’ll need to be signed into your Gmail or Google account.
Once you’ve done that, type “history.google.com/history” into your web browser.
You’ll be taken to a hub which contains your entire digital footprint, so be careful, it could make for some grim reading.
Visit history.google.com/history to find a hub that is pretty much a tell-all about your digital life. Picture: Google.Source:Supplied
This includes Maps searches and YouTube videos you’ve watched.
Under the tab Voice and Audio Activity, you’ll find a list of recordings in chronological order.
Before you start listening, you might want to plug your headphones in.
have to listen to the cringe-worthy sounds of you buying a pack of fags
in the newsagent or making small talk at the bus stop.
But there might also be all lots of salacious gossip that you wouldn’t want anybody else to hear.
You’ll be shocked to hear what it’s picked up, however.
You can check for your web activity by clicking here. Picture: Google.Source:Supplied
Sun Online discovered recordings from when the phone’s owner was not in
the room — and even revealed a romantic interlude between two mystery
It is possible to stop Google from storing so much info in the future.
Go back to “Activity controls” and under “Web & App activity” you should see a blue toggle.
can switch this off, but be warned. Officially you have merely “paused”
the recordings — so keep checking back on a regular basis to ensure
that the terms and conditions don’t change in the future and you aren’t
auto-enrolled when a new Android update comes along.
Scroll down Activity Controls to find the section title Voice and Audio activity. Picture: Google.Source:Supplied
Apple iPhone users aren’t any better off.
The tech giant also stores your voice recordings to improve its Siri assistant — but you aren’t able to access them.
Apple says that the recordings are anonymised after 18 months, so nobody would be able to figure out who is speaking.