If you use Amazon’s shopping service, Echo smart speakers or any of its other products, there are a number of default privacy settings you can change. Some instructions can be done when logged into your account on the main Amazon site, but others can be changed only within the company’s apps. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
If you only do one thing
We all have hopes, dreams and wishes. But you may not realize that some of those are publicly listed on Amazon’s website. Take a moment to make your Amazon Wish Lists private (unless you don’t mind; that’s fine, too).
- Go to this link or the Amazon homepage → All → Help & Settings→ Your Account → Your lists. For each list, click on the three dots on the right and select Manage List. Set the Privacy setting to Private.
If you’re still concerned about privacy (and use Alexa)
If you use Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa you should start by tightening up its various privacy controls.
Turn off Amazon Sidewalk
Sidewalk is the company’s new kind of wireless network built into Amazon devices that shares a little bit of your network with your neighbors. The option was turned on by default and people have no control over what sort of data flows over the network they’re a part of. (This can only be done in the app.)
- Open the Alexa app on a phone, tap the More icon → Settings → Account Settings → Amazon Sidewalk. Turn off Enabled. It should now say Disabled.
Clear and stop Alexa voice recordings
Alexa works by listening for commands, then saving those audio recordings to improve the underlying AI technology. You can stop the recordings from being saved.
- In the app, go to Settings → Alexa Privacy → Manage Your Alexa Data → Choose How Long to Save Voice Recordings, then select Don’t Save Recordings.
- Amazon claims this will “degrade” its ability to understand you. If you’re worried, you can just set it to auto delete more often.
- Log in to your Amazon account on the web and, at the top of the page, go to Account & Lists → Settings → Your Devices and Content → Manage Devices → Devices (or, just use this link). Find your Echo or other Alexa device, click Manage Voice Recordings → Delete Voice Recordings.
- Or you can do it in the Alexa app in Settings → Alexa Privacy → Review Voice History.
- Turn on this setting to delete voice recordings at any time by voice. In the Alexa app, go to Settings → Alexa Privacy → Manage Your Alexa Data and toggle on Enable Deletion by Voice
Stop Amazon from saving your search history
This just takes away a possibly revealing trail of everything you’ve looked up on Amazon. It’s a necessity if you share a computer.
- Log in to Amazon on the web. Under the search bar, click Browsing History → View and Edit → Manage history → Off. You will no longer get personalized recommendations.
If you want to be extra cautious
Mute or unplug all your Alexa devices when not in use, and don’t buy a Halo band.