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Google Responds To Contractors’ Misuse Of Google Assistant Recordings


It was reported yesterday how contractors hired by Google are listening to recordings of conversations that users have had with the Google Assistant. The report mentions that some of these recordings were captured even when the user hadn’t said the “Hey Google” trigger phrase. Google has now commented on the matter through a post on its official blog.

Google says that it works with language experts across the globe who are tasked with transcribing a small set of queries so that the system can better understand new languages. It acknowledges finding out that one of the language reviewers violated its data security policies by leaking Dutch audio data which was confidential.

“Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again,” it promises.

It also mentions that the assistant only sends audio to Google after the device detects that the user is interacting with it. However, it admits that there may be rare instances in which the Google Assistant experiences a “false accept,” where some noise or words in the background is wrongly interpreted by the software as the “Ok Google’ hotword.

Google says that it also applies a wide range of safeguards to protect user privacy through the entire process. The experts only get to review around 0.2 percent of all audio snippets. The snippets aren’t associated with user accounts and the reviewers are directed not to transcribe background conversations or other noises. They are to transcribe snippets that are directed to the assistant.

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