Sci-tech

Google Is Listening In To Its Home Speaker Recordings

Google Is Listening In To Its Home Speaker Recordings”

Google, however, has said providing the recordings was a violation of its data security policies. Given that VRT NWS was able to confront people with their own recordings, the reality would appear to be quite different.

There are reportedly thousands of Google employees worldwide listening to audio excerpts via a secure login in the company's Crowdsource app.

"We partner with language experts around the world to improve speech technology by transcribing a small set of queries - this work is critical to developing technology that powers products like the Google Assistant", Google said.

You can find a wealth of more information about Google's privacy policy here, but you will not find is that its smart home speakers and accompanying smartphone app can lead to subcontractors listening to things you never meant to have recorded. Google Home snippets were "clear", and Google Assistant, the cellphone app version, produced "telephone quality" audio.

Insisting that Google has safeguards in place to prevent "false accepts" - recordings initiated without the user's knowledge - Google Search project manager David Monsees wrote in a Thursday blog post that the use of "language experts" is "necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant" and claimed the experts only review.2 percent of audio fragments recorded by the device.

Flemish broadcaster VRT, which maintains an English-language version, was tipped off that Google workers really are eavesdropping on the commands and other overheard snippets recorded by devices powered by the Google Assistant. Last holiday season, for instance, people used Google Assistant 16 million times for recipes alone.

While Google emphasizes that it anonymizes the snippets, replacing the user's name with a serial number, Belgian broadcaster VRT found that matching a voice snippet with its owner was not very hard, given the ample supply of addresses and sensitive information found on the recordings they were given.

The company acknowledged earlier this year that its reviewers listen to anonymous recordings in response to a Bloomberg report revealing that Amazon's Alexa also uses contractors to listen to recordings.

A hot potato: Algorithms have vastly improved human voice recognition but it seems the technology still needs a lot of real human help to train itself, even if it comes at the cost of privacy. "Audio snippets are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process, and reviewers are directed not to transcribe background conversations or other noises and only to transcribe snippets that are directed to Google".

"Why is Google storing these recordings and why does it have employees listening to them?"

Google Assistant is available on more than 1 billion devices, including smartphones and smart speakers.

When setting up a Google account, the option for voice and audio activity is set to off by default.



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