We don’t retain your audio recordings: Google

by September 23, 2019 0 comments

First social media giant Facebook was listening to you. Then, the company made changes to its platform and said it wasn’t. But, now it’s listening again. Other tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon were also reported to listen to your audio recordings from their respective smart speakers.

But, let’s first understand what happens when you use smart speakers.

While a smart speaker is generally a block of plastic, the brains behind it are the smart assistants such as Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, etc. All these speakers are waiting to listen for their wake word tells them to start recording and to transmit that information to its servers so that they can know how best to respond contextually.

Earlier this year, Google and Apple contractors were reported to listen to audio recordings that included details like a person’s name, medical records, and people having sex. And as users are now concerned about the possibility that their smart devices are spying on them, Google has announced a few changes to help you feel safe.

Google says that it fell short of the company’s high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used, and the company has apologized.

Google has now paused this process of human transcription globally to investigate and has conducted a full review of its systems and controls. ‘By default, we don’t retain your audio recordings. This has been the case and will remain unchanged. You can still use the Assistant to help you throughout the day, and have access to helpful features like Voice Match,’ Google said.

If you want to store your audio data, you can do so by opting into the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) setting when you set up your Assistant. Opting in to VAA allows the Google Assistant to better recognize and understand your voice over time. This also helps improve the Assistant for all the users by allowing the company to use small samples of audio to understand more languages and accents. According to Google, you can view your past interactions with the Assistant, and delete any of these interactions at any time.

If you have turned on VAA, you are given your permission to human reviewers that might listen to your audio snippets to help improve speech technology. And if you’re an existing Assistant user, you’ll have the option to review your VAA setting and confirm your preference before any human review process resumes.

Google says it won’t include your audio in the human review process unless you’ve re-confirmed your VAA setting as on. The Google Assistant immediately deletes any audio data when it realizes it was activated unintentionally, for instance, by a noise that sounds like ‘Hey Google.’

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