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Google responds to leak of audio data from AI assistant reviewer

16 July 2019

Furthermore, the issuer could have traced back to the identity of the people to whom the records belonged by putting together some information. In other words, the Google Home device was recording when it shouldn't have been. This is troublesome for Google, which said that the clippings it uses for research are "not associated with user accounts." . They listened to over 1,000 excerpts provided by a Dutch contractor and found that greater than 15 percent of the - 153 recordings in all - have been recorded without the user's knowledge.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Google said the transcription process was a necessary part of providing voice assistant technologies to its worldwide users.

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"We have been informed that one of our language experts has violated our policies by sharing confidential audio data", writes Google.

Google stated that their "security and privacy response teams have been activated on this issue", and they are already holding investigations with the matter, and will also "take action" appropriately on the matter. "We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again", the company said. In my case, these are Dutch-language recordings from Belgium and Holland. "This is undeniably my own voice", said one man. "We do around a thousand such transcriptions per week". Their work is not about analyzing what the user is saying, but, in fact, how they are saying it. "Most of these recordings were made consciously, but Google also listens to conversations that should never have been recorded, some of which contain sensitive information", VRT NWS reported. "While asking humans to assist with language recognition and booking fulfilment is a "legitimate purpose" under GDPR, the real question is whether Google is doing so in a "transparent manner" and for "specified and explicit purposes". The terms of use is written that the records could be used by the company, and this setting could be turned off.

However, VRT reporters could hear spoken home addresses in some of the recordings, and were able to track down the speakers.

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On that note, Google says it's now ready to investigate and take action against the contractor.

According to him, the language experts only review around 0.2 per cent of all audio snippets.

Google claims transcribing conversations in various languages is critical to building speech technology that understands all languages, accents and dialects.

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Google responds to leak of audio data from AI assistant reviewer