Hey, Google, why are your contractors listening to me?

Hey, Google, why are your contractors listening to me?

Responding in its blog to the VRT expose, Google said it shared recordings with experts who "understand the nuances and accents" of specific languages to make its speaker more accurate.

Amazon, Apple, and Google all have workers listen to smart-assistant recordings, Bloomberg wrote in April.

As well as being a disturbing revelation for Google Assistant users, there is also the possibility that the recordings constitute a breach of European GDPR privacy rules. Some of these recordings contained highly sensitive and private information. Google Home snippets were "clear", and Google Assistant, the cellphone app version, produced "telephone quality" audio.

"Rarely, devices that have the Google Assistant built in may experience what we call a "false accept.' This means that there was some noise or words in the background that our software interpreted to be the hotword (like 'Ok Google")".


Around one in 5,000 recordings are sent to a language expert, it said.

"Okay Google. May I hit my wife?" and "Pornhub", are just a two of the thousands of phrases and conversation snippets recorded by Google and heard by the broadcaster, following a leak of over 1,000 recordings.

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A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that language experts are employed to transcribe "a small set of queries", approximately 0.2 percent of audio snippets which are then used to develop the technology that allows Google Assistant to run. The clippings, the company says, are anonymous or not associated with user accounts and do not reveal a user's personal information. Google is also reviewing the policies it has in place for its transcribers "to prevent misconduct like this from happening again".


Third-party contractors working for Google are reportedly recording and secretly listening to your private conversations via Google Assistant.

If you use Android's Google Assistant, chances are you've noticed your phone occasionally waking up without your "OK Google" prompt.

VRT NWS, a news organization run by a public broadcaster in the Flemish region of Belgium, said it "was able to listen to more than a thousand [Google Assistant] recordings" that it received from a Google subcontractor. And based on the recordings, they actually didn't say "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" so this is a basic invasion of privacy. The incident is being investigated by the company, and it says action will be taken against the leaker.

When setting up a Google account, the option for voice and audio activity is set to off by default. Even though Google disconnects excerpts from the user's information and deletes the user name, it is still possible to recover the identity of the user simply by listening to the except carefully.


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