Google Home: Google employees are listening to conversations


Every 500th voice command is evaluated by Google employees. An escape from Belgium shows that there are also many calls and unintentionally recorded telephone calls – with private and intimate content.

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Google Home Teaser | (c) Google


(c) Google

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Every 500th voice command is evaluated by Google employees. An escape from Belgium shows that there are also many calls and unintentionally recorded telephone calls – with private and intimate content.


Google employees are also listening to conversations users are making with their Google Assistant. Belgian radio VRT has over 1,000 audio recordings of smart devices leaked, Some of these were recorded unintentionally because the assistant mistakenly heard an order word. The interviews, which were heard and transcribed by Google employees, sometimes contained private and intimate information, for example on health.

Private and intimate information

Audio clips come from voice commands and conversations that Belgian users have had with their Google Home devices or Google Assistant on Android smartphones. About 1,000 of these records must be heard and transcribed by a Google partner each week. In a statement, Google says that about 0.2% of voice commands and conversations have been transcribed by Google employees. This is at least every 500th voice command. This is particularly likely to be recorded unintentionally, since the assistant often does not understand the discussions.

    Google Home Max | (c) Areamobile

Google Home Max

One of the contractors or language experts, as Google calls them, has spent over 1,000 recordings on VRT. The issuer was able to partially verify the recordings by reproducing the persons concerned. Among the other, the Flemish grandparents, whose son and grandson against the background of the (desired) record speech. In one recording their address was also called, so that the issuer could contact them. For example, in other movies, Google employees were able to listen to users asking for weather forecasts, working hours or pornographic videos.

Inadvertently and secretly: the assistant resumes discussions

About 150 recordings of leaked audio recordings were unintentionally recorded by Google's assistant. Below are fragments of telephone conversations and private conversations. Among them were people who discussed personal and health issues such as wound healing, the growth of their child or love life. Other conversations and private disputes can be found in the recordings, according to VRT.

    Google Home Mini | (c) Areamobile

Google Home Mini

Google emphasizes that employees transcribe conversations to improve the quality of voice processing technology. in Google privacy policy He says: "Access to personal information is limited to us and granted only to employees, contractors and Google customer service representatives who need it for further processing."Furthermore, they could used to display useful advertisements to users, The fact that the data collector and his colleague listen to confidential conversations – which are partly unintentionally recorded – is unpleasant for many. The contracting party also mentioned this as a reason to pass on the data to journalists.

Accurate information could "scare" users

Michael Veale of the University College of London criticizes that the information contained in the privacy statement is very vague, contrary to the general data protection regulation, which requires accurate and understandable user information on what happens to your data. "I think Google didn't do it because it would have looked scary, " Veale says Wired,

In April it was announced that Amazon employees are evaluating voice commands. Unlike Google and Apple, they had also been able to view more customer data. With the Apple Siri voice assistant, users cannot delete their voice recordings. Veale, on the other hand, has filed a complaint with the Irish data protection supervisor.

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More information on: Google Home

source: Golem


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