Exposed! Google records private conversations without users’ knowledge

Technology giant Google has admitted to using customers’ voice recordings to improve its smart home products and reportedly scraping up private interactions in the process.

After a leak from one of the company’s employees, first reported by Belgian new outlet VRT NWS, Google admitted that it gives workers access to some audio recordings from its Google Home and Android smart speakers.

The company said it provides those snippets to language experts who manually review the recordings, studying customers’ speech to improve its voice-activated Google Assistant.

It was reported some of those recordings were taken even without a user uttering the device’s wake words ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey, Google.’

It’s unclear how that audio was picked up, but VRT points out that sometimes users may inadvertently press a button, or the assistant can mistake one’s speech for a wake-up call.

In a statement, the company admitted that a small number of anonymous recordings were transcribed by its experts and revealed that an investigation had been launched after some Dutch audio data had been leaked.

‘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,’ Google said in a statement.

‘We just learned that one of these reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data.’

Google will join the ranks of companies like Amazon who use their Echo device to record customers’ audio
However, Google assured that it is currently conducting a review on the leaker and says that it will ensure that no audio is released in the future.

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