OK Google: Where Do You Store Recordings Of My Commands? : All Tech Considered Here's something to keep in mind when using the "OK Google" voice command feature on Android phones: Google keeps an audio archive of your requests.
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OK Google: Where Do You Store Recordings Of My Commands?

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OK Google: Where Do You Store Recordings Of My Commands?

OK Google: Where Do You Store Recordings Of My Commands?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/451981811/452763236" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And here's an advisory if you're the kind of person who talks to your smartphone - the phone may long remember what you say.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People who give certain voice commands to their Android phones are being recorded. As many people know, you can ask a smartphone - like the one that's in my hand right now - to search for information, as I'm about to do. Here's an easy question - OK, Google, who's playing in the World Series?

COMPUTER-GENERATED VOICE: The Mets lost to the Royals 7-1. They are playing the Royals tomorrow at 8:07 p.m.

INSKEEP: 8:07, very precise and convenient. The revelation here is that the audio of my voice, the search I just did is saved online. Log into your Google account and you can listen back to all your searches. Alex Hern wrote about this for The Guardian.

ALEX HERN: It's admirable transparency, but it's also rather disconcerting to be able to open up a page, scroll down three months, click a link and hear yourself asking your phone for directions to a supermarket.

MONTAGNE: Unless Android users opt out of this feature, there will be a record of months of your voice commands, which can paint a picture of an individual's interests.

INSKEEP: NPR producer and Android user Nick Fountain let us log into his account, and we quickly learned something about his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NICK FOUNTAIN, BYLINE: Set alarm for 2:45 a.m., set alarm for 3:45 a.m., set alarm for 2:45 a.m.

MONTAGNE: He once worked an early morning shift at MORNING EDITION, as you can tell. To see how accurate the Google-curated picture of Nick was, we asked two of his colleagues.

INSKEEP: Lauren Migaki and Rachel Ward guessed based on their knowledge of Nick Fountain what he would be asking his phone for information about, and then we matched their guesses with the reality.

LAUREN MIGAKI, BYLINE: Bicycles.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FOUNTAIN: Cantilever brakes picture. City bike map. Rosaryville Trail map.

RACHEL WARD, BYLINE: Kale recipes.

MIGAKI: Pickling.

WARD: Any sort of food preservation.

MIGAKI: Farmer's markets.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FOUNTAIN: New York Times cooking. Cucumber, tomato, red onion, poblanos, tomato calories, fish ball soup.

MONTAGNE: Apparently it's a pretty accurate picture. Nick Fountain did worry about his privacy, but not too much.

FOUNTAIN: And I think security is really key, but if something is private and it's going to make my life easier, I'm probably going to take the bait.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FOUNTAIN: WhoSampled, Steely Dan, De La Soul?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EYE KNOW")

DE LA SOUL: (Singing) Because (I know I love you better)....

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