Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

CAPE TOWN - Smart home speakers such as Google Home or Amazon Echo are digital helpers, living inside our devices and jumping at our spoken commands to set timers, play music, and teach kids how to spell those difficult homework words.

However, they have become a big security concern as it has been found that they can record personal conversations. 

Last week, a related incident came to light after a couple in Portland, OR, discovered that their Amazon Echoes were accidentally recording their private conversations and sending them to a friend from their contacts list reported a TV station Kiro 7.

According to the report, the couple said that the Amazon Echo device recorded a private conversation between her and her husband and sent the recording to an employee of the husband.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed this incident took place, but it appears it was an unusual series of Alexa mistaking conversation as commands rather than Alexa spying on users.

Amazon has said consistently that the Echo speakers only listen in and record after you use the wake word, usually "Alexa," to make your request.

Here is a list of ways you can access and delete the recordings these devices create:

1. Alexa, Amazon Echo 

Open the Alexa app on your smart device. Tap the hamburger icon on the top left side of the screen to open the menu options. Click on the Settings menu, then find History.

Here, you’ll be able to browse all the commands you’ve ever asked of Alexa, from timers to music requests to general internet queries. You can also sort the results by date.

You can delete it on an individual basis, or go to the Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices page to wipe it entirely. The company, of course, cautions that doing so “may degrade your Alexa experience.”


 2. Google Home, Google Assistant 

Go to myactivity.google.com in a web browser. Click the action overflow button in the top left of the page. Select Delete activity by. Select a date or date range that you want to delete.

Click Delete and confirm by clicking OK. You can stop Google from saving your voice recordings and audio activity to your account under Activity controls in your Google account settings.

However, it will cause voice searching with Google Assistant (including Google Home speakers) to stop working until you re-enable it.

To access this, go to myactivity.google.com from a web browser and click the hamburger button in the top left of the page. 

Select Activity controls in the menu. 

Scroll down to Voice & Audio Activity and click the toggle and confirm to pause Voice & Audio Activity.

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