I Said What Now? Listen to What Google Has on You

okgoogleOk, Google, how can I manage my privacy just a little bit better?

We’ve probably all done it: “Ok, Google, find me a good <<fill in the blank.>>” It’s especially true if you have an Android smartphone, with the Google features baked into the operating system.

What may be a surprise is that Google has recorded it…all of it…and it lives on a specific audio page.

“Google could have a record of everything you have said around it for years, and you can listen to it yourself,” explains Andrew Griffin in The Independent.

“The [OK Google] feature works as a way of letting people search with their voice, and storing those recordings presumably lets Google improve its language recognition tools as well as the results that it gives to people,” he explains.

“But it also comes with an easy way of listening to and deleting all of the information that it collects. That’s done through a special page that brings together the information that Google has on you.”

To hear what Google’s got on you, Griffin offers a link to the Google history page for accounts; there you’ll see the list of recordings. From there you can also find info on all the info Google has on you as you use its features across platforms. And boy, there’s a lot there.

“The recordings can function as a kind of diary, reminding you of the various places and situations that you and your phone have been in. But it’s also a reminder of just how much information is collected about you, and how intimate that information can be,” he adds, noting that Android users will find more info there than other brands, since Google owns the Android OS.

Curious, I checked mine out, and found no audio files, probably because I have my phone set to not allow this to be collected. I did, however, find the stash of everything else Google has on me, including sites visited, searches made, and gobs of other info.

Do I really care that they have it? Not so much; I’m not hiding anything or doing any nefarious. Can I see how this information could lead to privacy violations? Absolutely I do.

Either way, it’s interesting to see how much time I’ve wasted clicking around on random links down the rabbit hole. So from that point of view, this was really useful information as I look for ways to tighten up my time management.

The emergence of the consumer as a data provider puts everything we do into a database somewhere. Whether that’s a good thing or not is debatable.