Wonderful Engineering

Google Admits That Google’s Employees Listen To Home Speaker User Recordings

Google has admitted that its employees listen to the customers’ audio recordings on Google Home smart speakers. However, the technology giant has claimed that this is critical for improving the AI voice assistant. Google says that it has hired language experts to analyze ‘snippets’ of recordings that have been made by users, thus enabling Google to improve its voice recognition technology.

The voice recognition technology is then employed for developing the Google Assistant artificial intelligence system that is then used in Google Home smart speakers and Android smartphones. The assistant is able to understand and respond to the voice commands that are given to it. It can answer questions about the weather and the news while also being able to control the internet-connected devices in a home.

A statement was given by Google wherein the company said that a few anonymous recordings were transcribed by its experts and said that an investigation had been launched after some Dutch audio data was found to be leaked. Google said, ‘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.’

The statement further read, ‘We just learned that one of these reviewers had violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. 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.’

What do you think of this? Should Google be allowed to use recordings of its users in order to improve the quality of its service? If so, shouldn’t it have protective measures in place to protect the privacy of its users?