News of Amazon's Alexa-based smart speakers sending private conversations has led to increased scrutiny over how much these smart speakers — which have been used in criminal cases — listen and record. Fortunately, there's a way to view what Alexa's recorded and erase that audio.
Being aware of how to clear out your Alexa history became newly relevant thanks to a case in Arkansas, where police want Amazon to turn over information transmitted to its servers by an Echo belonging to the defendant in a murder trial. As reported by The Information, James Andrew Bates has plead not guilty after being charged with the murder of a man found dead in his Bentonville, Ark., hot tub last year.
It's unclear what information could have been transmitted from the Echo speaker. Its seven microphones are always on and listening, but are only supposed to record after those mics pick up a Wake word such as "Alexa" or "Amazon." However, The Information notes that the Echo's microphones "can often be triggered inadvertently."
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Amazon has twice declined to turn over recordings sent from the Echo, according to court records. The company has, however, provided copies of Bates' account information and purchase history. Police say they've also extracted some data off the Echo.
Clearing Your Alexa History
If you're uncomfortable with the idea of leaving around old voice recordings, there's a way to clear the data on your Alexa devices if you're so inclined. Before you start deleting, though, remember that you're essentially wiping the AI's specialized memory, as it's retaining this information to better serve you.
Still, here's how to clear your Alexa history and delete recordings.
1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone and tap the menu button to open the sidebar. Select Settings.
2. Select Alexa Account.
3. Select History. Here you can see audio recordings retained by your device.
4. Select a recording.
5. Select Delete voice recordings. If you want to scrub Alexa clean of all recordings, you've got a lot of tapping ahead of you.
Or you could visit Amazon's Content and Devices page to erase all of your recordings at once. From there, select Your Devices, click on the Alexa device you want to clean up and select Manage Voice Recordings. Select the option that allows you to delete everything.