In an era where concerns about digital privacy run high, many of us worry about the extent to which our phones are actively listening and how that data is utilized.

While it’s true that advertisers and data brokers possess a wealth of information about us, the idea of constant eavesdropping can still feel unsettling.

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to protect your privacy, even against tech giants like Google, which might be gathering audio recordings from various sources, including your interactions with digital assistants.

A hidden feature within your Google account has the capability to capture audio snippets from your web and app activity, ostensibly for improving user experience and marketing efforts. However, such practices can pose significant privacy risks, especially if your account or smart devices are compromised by cybercriminals.

To shield yourself from this potential invasion of privacy, you can take proactive steps:

Open the Google app on your smartphone and navigate to “Manage Your Google Account.”

Select the “Data and Privacy” tab, then scroll to “History Settings.”

Under “Web & App Activity,” locate the setting for voice and audio activity, and uncheck it to prevent future audio recordings from being saved to your Google account or its servers.

While this prevents future recordings, it’s important to note that existing recordings will remain unless you delete them manually. Here’s how:

Open your Google Account and access “Data and Privacy.”

Under “History Settings,” select “Web & App Activity” and click on “Manage activity.”

Identify items with a microphone icon indicating a recording and delete them individually by selecting “More,” then “Delete.”

Alternatively, delete all items at once by clicking “Delete” above your activity and selecting “All time.”

It’s worth noting that these steps will erase all web and app activity associated with your Google account, not just recordings.

Furthermore, it’s prudent to review and manage app permissions on your device to prevent unauthorized microphone access:

For iPhone users, navigate to Settings > Privacy & Security > Microphone, and toggle off permissions for any apps you don’t want accessing your mic.

Android users can swipe down from the top of the screen to access Settings, then tap on Privacy > Permission Manager to review and disable microphone access for specific apps.

By taking these precautions, you can safeguard your privacy and mitigate the risk of unauthorized audio surveillance.