Google employees eavesdrop on your conversations with the Google Assistant

Google Assistant Recordings Being Secretly Listened to by Contractors Report

Google contractors might be listening into your Home speaker — even when you don’t say ‘OK Google’

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.

The reporters even played back some of the recordings for the people who had made them. These included "bedroom conversations, conversations between parents and their children, but also blazing rows and professional phone calls containing lots of private information". Given that VRT NWS was able to confront people with their own recordings, the reality would appear to be quite different.

One of the independent sources who spoke to the publication said he once had to transcribe a recording where he could hear a woman who was in definite distress. We are actively investigating this and when we find a breach of our policy, we will take action quickly, up to and including the termination of our agreement with the partner.

Google insisted to VRT that all was well because it worked with "language experts worldwide" to transcribe hard-to-understand snippets of recorded conversations.

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Google has previously disclosed that it hires language experts to listen to recordings, and it defended the practice in today's blog post. "This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology and is necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant".

Google Assistant is accurate and there's a reason why. Users have to opt in to store recordings on the account, and there's a disclosure that the recordings could be used to improve the speech systems. 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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Google also claims that their language experts only judge about 0.2 percent of all audio fragments and that those aren't linked to any personal or identifiable information.

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When you use Google Assistant to get answers to your queries and perform daily tasks, not only the device is listening to your commands but Google contractors could also listen to your conversation with the Assistant.

When Google Assistant has difficulty making out a command, employees check the AI-generated script against what they hear in the clip.

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

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