A report from Belgian broadcaster VRT News has highlighted the ongoing privacy/security debate about what the voice assistants, smart speakers and other devices with microphones are doing in the background.
Belgian broadcaster VRT News says, “Not only is your Google Home device listening to you, a new report suggests there might be a Google contractor who’s listening as well. Even if you didn’t ask your device any questions, it’s still sending what you say to the company, who allow an actual person to collect data from it.” The report also describes how Google Home recordings end up being listened to by contractors. The recordings are not only just listened to live also but audio clips are being sent to subcontractors.
Google’s terms and conditions state that audio recordings are made when you start a conversation with Google Assistant on a smartphone or other devices by using its magic word “Ok, Google.” In contrast, the video clips leaked by a whistleblower in collaboration with the Belgian broadcaster VRT included information which was recorded even when the user had not said the words, “Ok, Google.”
“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. Language experts only review around 0.2% of all audio snippets, and these snippets are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process,” says a Google spokesperson in defense.