Google admits listening to voice recordings of users from its AI voice-assistants
Days after Belgian public broadcaster VRT released a few Dutch language recordings of Google's smart speakers, the tech giant has admitted that it listens to voice recordings of users from its AI voice-assistant Google Assistant.
Days after Belgian public broadcaster VRT released a few Dutch language recordings of Google's smart speakers, the tech giant has admitted that it listens to voice recordings of users from its AI voice-assistant Google Assistant. In a blog post, Google said that its language experts globally listen to these recordings as they help them develop more such technologies. "These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages. This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology, and is necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant," the post read.
The search engine denied that all the audio recordings are listened to and said that only around 0.2 per cent of all audio snippets are reviewed. It added that all these clippings are anonymous or not associated with user accounts and do not reveal a user’s personal information. The post adds that no background noise is transcribed by the language experts to maintain privacy.
The VRT report had claimed that most of the recordings were made consciously, but Google also listens to conversations that should never have been recorded, some of which contain sensitive information. It had said that of over 1,000 recordings from Assistant, which is used on smartphones, smart home speakers like Google Home and other products, 153 were recorded accidentally.
The report said that some of these recordings even revealed personal information of users such as their address in one case and names of grandchildren of a family in another.
The Google Assistant needs users to say the phrase “OK, Google” or physically trigger the Assistant button on devices. Once the Assistant is turned on, it starts recording. Google has admitted in the past that the Assistant may falsely accept recording request sometimes when but had claimed that such incidents are rare.
According to the post, this tends to happen when there is too much background noise.