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Google admits that workers listen to your private conversations via Assistant

Google has reportedly admitted that its workers listen to a user's private conversations via Assistant. Here's everything you need to know.

  • Published: July 12, 2019 10:29 AM IST
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Third-party contractors working for Google are reportedly recording and secretly listening to your private conversations via Google Assistant. Such recordings have further raised serious questions about the privacy of users. According to Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, users’ conversations with Google Home speakers are being recorded and audio clips are being sent to sub-contractors. The workers then “transcribe the audio files for subsequent use in improving Google‘s speech recognition”.

VRT NWS, with the help of a whistleblower, was able to listen to more than 1,000 excerpts recorded via Google Assistant. “In these recordings, we could clearly hear addresses and other sensitive information. This made it easy for us to find the people involved and confront them with the audio recordings,” said the report. The transcribers heard just everything: personal information, bedroom talks, domestic violence and what not about Google Assistant users in Belgium and the Netherlands.

VRT “overheard countless men searching for porn, arguments between spouses, and even one case in which a woman seemed to be in an emergency situation.” The Belgian broadcaster said the recordings were done despite the fact that some of Google Home users did not even say the wake word, “Ok Google”. In a statement, Google said it only transcribes and uses “about 0.2 percent of all audio clips”, to improve their voice recognition tech.

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“The company has launched an investigation because the contractor breached data security policies,” said the Google spokesperson. Besides, Amazon Alexa is already facing scrutiny for recording users private talks. The company has also admitted that it does not always delete the stored data. The company keeps the transcripts until a user “manually delete the information”.

Separately, Google just recently added three new features to its Google Maps app to discover local places for users. The search giant has revamped the Explore tab to a redesigned ‘India-inspired’ Explore tab. It will now fetch dining offers and suggestions tailored to users’ taste. There is ‘For You’ tab, which serves the relevant information on new restaurants, trending places, and personalized recommendations.

Google has partnered with EazyDiner for ‘Offers’ section. Google Maps users can get exclusive access to EazyDiner Prime offers for 15 days, across 1,500+ restaurants. The company guarantees a discount of at least 25 percent on all of them to start with. Users just need to look out for the ‘Exclusive’ tag while exploring ‘Offers’ on Maps.

With inputs from IANS

  • Published Date: July 12, 2019 10:29 AM IST