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Today’s world is governed by information at different levels. Legal contracts, administrative management and even intimate relationships are sustained or slaughtered on the altar of privacy of information. With the role that electronic gadgets play in our lives today, it is essential to understand how to stop AI from eavesdropping.

Your phone, tablet, laptops and other electronic gadgets are supposed to be private property. Ideally, no piece of information stored on any of your electronic devices should be accessible to others without your permission. Unfortunately, the things that seem to make life easy on us are often the same things that are complicating our existence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an enabler, it is a technology that is supposed to help us achieve things more easily and sometimes more effectively. Common among them are programs on our phones and other electronic gadgets that carry out instructions based on voice command. Quick to come to mind among these programs are Siri, Google assistant and Alexa.

As smart as these Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs appear to be, they are human trained and optimized, and that is where the twist begins.

There have been reports of contractors listening to what should be individual conversations, albeit without the knowledge of the owners. Legally, this might not be wrong, based on the various permissions that you may have granted the software providers. Most of the time we just click on “agree” or “Ok” just to keep going, without realising the full implication. 

There have been reports of whistle-blowers saying that they have listened to conversations that should have been private. At other times, certain individuals have been identified by journalists after excerpts from their Google recordings were shared. This kind of risk is too high to be taken for granted. The possibilities of what can come out of it can only be imagined.

With the kind of scenarios mentioned above, it is clear that the security of your information and personal data has a lot to do with your own personal efforts. To protect from spyware, and exercises that take advantage of the weaknesses of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) devices, there are steps that you need to take.

Below we take a step by step look at how to stop AI from eavesdropping on you. 

Controlling Alexa Data Sharing With Amazon

The privacy control on Alexa is quite comprehensive and ironically straightforward at the same time. Not long ago, an Alexa Privacy Hub was released which provides a full explanation on how to manage your privacy settings. If you want to opt out of the human vetting on Alexa, here are the steps to follow:

  • On the Alexa app on your smartphone, go to Settings and select Alexa Privacy.
  • Tap on Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa.
  • Where it says Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features, toggle to put it in Off mode.

How To Delete Voice Recordings On Alexa

  • Inside the  Alexa Privacy menu, select Review Voice History
  • Use the date range to select the time frame of recordings you want to delete, such as All History.
  • From the options that appear, tap the Delete All Recordings for All History option.
  • To deactivate the microphone on gadgets with Alexa, simply use the Kill Switch physical button. This will save your from anyone eavesdropping on your conversation.
  • To protect yourself from unplanned camera recordings, you can simply make a webcam cover and slide it over the camera lens of your device. Otherwise, a voice command can do the trick. In such cases, you can simply say “Alexa, turn the camera off”.

How To Delete Recording On Apple Siri

Privacy control on Siri is the least flexible among the top virtual assistants available today. Managing ones user data on Siri is also a bit more complicated. However, Apple has a way of masking user identity, which is a kind of a privacy protection exercise. It achieves this by using a random identifier which you can reset by restarting Siri. Here are the steps to follow if you want to enhance your privacy on Siri:

How To Reset Siri On Iphone In Order To Erase Data And Reset Identifier

  • On your device, go to Setting > General > Keyboard
  • Toggle the Enable Dictation button and put it in the Off position
  • Go back to Settings and select Siri & Search, disable the switches for Listen for “Hey Siri” and Press Side Button for Siri.  A message will appear asking if you want to disable Siri. Tap the Turn Off Siri button and your Siri history will be deleted.
  • To re-enable Siri, return to setting and switch on everything you have turned off.

How to Protect Your Privacy on Google Home

Google claims to have suspended its human review processes. However, to be on the safe side, there are steps that you can take to stop AI from eavesdropping. You can take the following steps on the Google Assistant app to achieve this:

How to Disable Human Reviews on Google Assistant

  • Log in to your Google account and visit the web toolActivity Controls”.
  • Find the “Voice and Audio Activity” switch and toggle it into the Off position and you’re good.

Part of what was the issue with Google privacy was their  access to recordings. Some of these recordings might have even been forgotten by the owners, only for them to resurface due to third party access. Therefore, to automatically delete recordings from your Google account, here are the steps to follow:

  • Login to your Google account and go to Activity Controls.
  • Under Web & App Activity, click on Manage Activity.
  • Next, click on the Choose to Delete Automatically option. Then click Keep for 3 months then delete automatically.

With this setting, your recording will be automatically deleted from the Google server after three months.

Conclusion

User privacy is a big deal today. Many years after the US presidential election, the saga of leaked emails and controversial interactions lives on. Individual data usage today is a subject of great social and political implications.

On a personal note, there are communications that you’d prefer to remain private. Having them in the public domain could become disastrous. Unfortunately, in the attempt to enjoy the benefits of emerging technologies, we knowingly or unknowingly give up certain rights to the service providers. For some people, this has been a very costly exercise.

With the above explanation on how to stop AI from eavesdropping, you can be assured of limited interference by third parties in your private life. With a little effort, you can regain control of your privacy and once again be in charge without the fear of unpermitted exposure.