5 Tips to Protect Your Privacy on Google Assistant

Love your Google Home device? Got a Google Pixel or Android phone or tablet? Rely on Google Assistant for just about everything? Just remember one thing – a personal assistant device is always listening. Private conversations on your phone, with family members or in regards to your business could be less private than you realize.

In addition to hearing your conversations, information is collected by Google Assistant, including your name, location and interests. Each time you ask a question or conduct a search, the data is saved so Assistant can access your search history to analyze and provide better answers the next time.

But the data collected by your Google Assistant is also used to push targeted advertising. In addition, anyone, such as your kids or house guests, can ask Assistant for information about your calendars, phone numbers, recent purchases or other personal information. This makes you and your family vulnerable to someone stealing that information and using it against you.

This all adds up to potential privacy concerns. Here’s what you need to know and do to keep these concerns to a minimum.

Related: Find out how to protect your privacy if you use Amazon Echo.

1 – Mute It

One of the most drastic ways to keep conversations private requires muting the device. Use the touch panel on top of Google Home device to mute the microphone. That’s the only way the device can no longer record anything, but it also means your device must be turned back on manually in order to request help from Assistant. This takes away some of the convenience, but muting keeps your conversations private.

2 – Watch the Lights

Keep an eye on the LED lights on your Google Home device in case you trigger the microphone to record by mistake. The lights change color when the microphone is listening.

3 – Opt Out

Keep your personal data from being sold to marketing companies by limiting the data Google collects about you. Visit the Settings section in your Google account to choose what is and isn’t recorded. Find out how to change the settings by visiting the Google Home Help page.  

4 – Delete History

Deleting the search history helps protect your privacy and also reduces the amount of information sold to third party marketing companies. Keep in mind that Assistant may not provide improved personalized answers for future searches if you delete the history, but it’s a small price to pay for more privacy. To delete the history, go to Google My Activity page to determine what information has been collected about you. You can then delete the history.

5 – Avoid Linking Payment Info

Assistant makes it super easy to buy airline and concert tickets once you add payment information to your Google account.  Unfortunately, the ease of ordering makes it a little too easy for anyone with access to your Assistant to also make purchases, including friends, your kids, home repair services or thieves. To avoid these types of problems, do not link payment information to your account.