Consumer Reports takes a closer look at privacy and smart speakers

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Monday, September 9, 2019
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Consumer Reports takes a closer look at privacy and smart speakers.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- These days, it seems like "Alexa" has become the most common name in millions of homes.

But whether you use an Amazon, Google, or Apple smart speaker, concerns about what these devices are sending back to the mothership are growing. Consumer Reports takes a look at just how concerned you should be and what you can do to control your digital privacy with these connected devices.

Amazon, Apple, and Google say they take steps to protect their users' privacy. But all three companies also confirmed to Consumer Reports that they have teams listening to recordings of people using their voice-commands and interfaces. The companies say they use those recordings to improve how their smart speakers work.

So, what should you do if you own a smart speaker? If you turn it off when you're not using it, you don't have to worry as much. But you can also go through and spot-check your recordings, and- if you hear something you don't want anyone else to hear, you can delete it.

You can also alter your privacy settings, but if you do, you might be giving up some of the functionality of the device.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would be introducing new controls to make it easier for Alexa users to delete records of their conversations with the digital assistant. Among the improvements, the company says, will be a new online Privacy Hub.

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