Google Assistant: Employees can listen to intimate conversations

Google Assistant: Mitarbeiter können intime Gespräche anhören

According to VRT News research, Google employees are listening to some of the audio recorded with Google Home and Google Assistant. This is done to improve your own services. Since the voice assistants also unintentionally create recordings, employees sometimes have access to very private conversations.

VRT News, the news service of the Flemish public service broadcaster in Belgium, has been through a Google subcontractor to more than 1,000 such shots, which were created on the smartphone app Google Assistant, and have listened to. Since not only deliberately with the voice command “Okay Google” initiated voice recordings, but also 153 by a misinterpretation of speech recognition unconscious audio recordings were underneath, some very confidential conversations could be overheard. Among other things, VRT News talks about conversations in the bedroom as well as business calls with confidential information. Part of it was the personal addresses of the participants. Some of them found VRT, confronted them with the recordings and confirmed that it was their voices that could be heard there.

That Google Assistant and the smart speaker Google Home record conversations, is part of the terms of use that users accept with the use. However, it was previously unknown that employees of a subcontractor have access to these recordings.

According to the Google subcontractor, thousands of people worldwide would use a system that allows access to the audio from the Google Assistant. In a statement, a Google spokesperson in Belgium stated that only “about 0.2 percent of all audio fragments“Evaluated by the employees. This is important to improve speech recognition. Therefore, from a “small number of audio files“Transcripts created, in addition”not linked to personal or identifiable information“Be.

Also on Amazon and Apple employees listen

A similar procedure was already known in April in the competing Alexa product from Amazon. Amazon had confirmed that employees of the company would listen to a very small portion of the audio recordings. Again, the reasoning was that in this way the speech recognition should be improved.

Apple stores the audio recordings of Siri with assignment to a user for six months to train the system. After these six months, the assignments to the user will be removed and the recordings stored for a maximum of another two years to improve Siri – even with human cooperation.


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