What Did You Say? The Forever Recordings of Alexa


If you (like so many of us) hate listening to recordings of your own voice, you may be in for an unpleasant future, as Amazon has confirmed it hangs on to every conversation you’ve ever had with an Alexa-enabled device until or unless you specifically delete them.

That confirmation comes as a response to a list of questions Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in May expressing “concerns” about how Amazon uses and retains customers’ Alexa voice assistant data.

Amazon’s response to Coons, as first reported by CNET, confirms that the company keeps your data as long as it wants unless you deliberately specify otherwise.

“We retain customers’ voice recordings and transcripts until the customer chooses to delete them,” Amazon said—but even then there are exceptions.

Amazon, as well as third parties that deploy “skills” on the Alexa platform, keep records of interactions customers have with Alexa, the company said. If, for example, you order a pizza, purchase digital content, summon a car from a ride-hailing service, or place an Amazon order, “Amazon and/or the applicable skill developer obviously need to keep a record of the transaction,” Amazon said, without clarifying the specific kind of data that’s in that record.

Other types of Alexa requests, such as setting an alarm, reminder, or calendar event, also leave data, Amazon said. “Customers would not want or expect deletion of the voice recording to delete the underlying data or prevent Alexa from performing the requested task.”

If you would like to review and delete any Alexa voice or transcript data in your Amazon account, you can do so under the Alexa Privacy section, found under “Change your digital and device settings” in the “Your Devices and Content” section of your account.

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