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Google listens to conversations recorded by its smart home devices



Google commissions subcontractors to listen to conversations and recordings from users of its smart home devices. Picture credits: Pixabay

According to VRT's reports from Wednesday, Google hires employees to listen to recordings and conversations from users of the technology company's smart home devices and applications.

An anonymous subcontractor of The Global Technology Giant gave the Flemish news site access to over a thousand conversations recorded via Google Home's Smart Speaker or Google Assistant's smartphone app, 153 of which were unknowingly the user's were recorded.

External collaborator was one of many Google employees worldwide, including Belgium, who listened to and analyzed a set of records collected and stored by Crowdsource's intelligent assistants. On this platform, anyone can contribute to improving the company's algorithms by describing images and audio snippets, videos …

The recordings taken by the smart devices are stored in a "hidden" area of ​​the platform accessible only to authorized persons is nnel after the socket. The employee's task is to "process" the records to improve the understanding of the device for the intricacies of human speech.

"Employees must listen attentively to describe the fragment as well as possible," writes the sales office. The subcontractors are asked to describe the detail in detail: "Can you hear a female or a male voice? Is it a kid? What is being said? Every cough and every audible comma is advertised. "

" This is undoubtedly my own voice.

The audio fragments captured and stored by the devices are reportedly freed from any information that could help the employee identify the people behind them. Usernames and other information are removed from the audio files.

However, an important part of the employee's job is to assist the devices in recognizing words that they themselves could not understand or handle. This means: "Employees who are listening must search every word, address, name or company name" for which the spelling is uncertain, possibly facilitating the task of fully or partially identifying the person speaking.

Some fragments VRT intercepted allowed the point of sale to find and track users and visit them in their own homes to play the recordings for them.

"That's undoubtedly my own voice," said a Flemish resident when he heard an audio clip while a couple in Waasmünster said they recognized the voices of their children and grandchildren "instantly."

Hearing problems

Most snippets of audio scanned on the Dutch-language news site came from the direct interaction of users with the wm Smart Appliance resulting from the specific voice command "Ok Google."

According to the outlet, recording and saving is By default, small print does not mean that people will listen to it.

However, this only includes the voice recordings that are recorded after the user has pronounced the "Ok Google" command, and the VRT nonetheless indicated that more than a hundred fragments had access to it unknowingly net, because the smart appliances are activated by any word that "sounds like Google" or when the user "accidentally presses a button" or "unknowingly gives a command".

The thousands of conversations analyzed by the branch included bedroom discussions, parent-child conversations, but also "fierce arguments" and "business phone conversations with lots of confidential information."

High-Tech Trump ps privacy

The results of the Flemish branch follow Bloomberg's April reports that Amazon employees reviewed conversations and records issued by the company's smart-home assistant Alexa 1

9659003] were saved. Amazon's worldwide watch offers the ability to listen to thousands of different recordings and conversations to improve companies' smart devices and improve their algorithms.

In the case of Google, the company has released a series of videos with the aim to combat concerns about the interception.

VRT surveyed the surviving records and acknowledged that fragments were reviewed to improve the technology's small number of clips, which account for "only 0.2% of all audio clips".

The company further stated that the work carried out by its subcontractors was "key to the bottom line." The development of technologies that enable products like the Google Assistant "raises the question – Google, Facebook, and the others Technology giants in the world since the launch of their high-performance products: To what extent can technologies cross borders? Data protection?

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times


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