Home News Science&Tech Google starts investigation into leaked voice recordings of Google Assistant

Google starts investigation into leaked voice recordings of Google Assistant

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Google has launched an investigation into how audio recordings from Google Assistant have leaked out. The company reports this in a blog post.

Dutch-language recordings made with Google’s virtual assistant were shared with the NOS and the Flemish VRT. This week it appeared that the voice commands are listened to by people hired by Google to analyze them.

“We have been informed that one of our language experts has violated our policies by sharing confidential audio data,” writes Google. “Our Security and Privacy Response teams investigate the problem and take action.”

The company says it is reviewing the security of the systems to ensure that “this type of misconduct” no longer occurs in the future.

Normally, the Google Assistant only processes audio clips if the user pronounces “OK Google” or “Hey Google”. But in 153 of the thousand recordings, audio was also recorded without the command being given in advance.

Google writes that 0.2 percent of all audio clips worldwide are analyzed by language experts. This should improve speech technology. Experts are instructed not to transcribe conversations in the background and only to handle sounds directed at Google.

The company calls the use of language experts an “essential part” of the development of speech technology. By deploying people, nuances and accents can be better understood. “It is necessary for creating Google Assistant.”

In April it was announced that thousands of Amazon employees are listening to voice recordings from users with a smart Echo speaker. These speakers can be operated with voice assistant Alexa.

The recordings are written out and commented on to make sure that Alexa understands and processes speech better. Here too, sometimes recordings of private situations came through.

Whether Apple’s Siri also does this is unknown. Besides the Google Assistant, Siri is the only virtual major voice assistant available in Dutch.

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