Google temporarily stops Assistant audio transcriptions in the EU

03 Août, 2019, 22:40 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Google temporarily stops Assistant audio transcriptions in the EU

As a result, Google has suspended all Google Assistant audio reviews in Europe – the company confirmed to CNBC.

Google acknowledged last month its contractors are able to listen to recordings of what people tell Google Assistant after some Dutch-language recordings were leaked. The temporary stay will last for at least three months, but could be longer.

The search giant's Assistant service, similar to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, lets people use their voice to turn on a light or get the morning's headlines through devices including a Google Home smart speaker, Android phone or iPhone.

Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, said (PDF): "The use of speech assistance systems in the European Union must comply with the data protection requirements of the GDPR". Belgian public broadcaster VRT NWS said more than 1,000 files had been leaked, including recordings from instances where users accidentally triggered Google's software. Google defended the practice as a necessity in a blog post while simultaneously calling out a contractor who "violated [the company's] data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data".

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"In particular, this involves sufficient and transparent information for those concerned about the processing of voice commands, but also about the frequency and risks of misactivation".

A Google spokesman said: "We are in touch with the Hamburg data protection authority and are assessing how we conduct audio reviews and help our users understand how data is used". "These reviews help make voice recognition systems more inclusive of different accents and dialects across languages".

As our lives become more digitally intertwined, we are seeing much higher concern for our data and who controls it. Regulators from the United States and Europe are also keen on investigating global scale technology companies practices since they have control over so many consumers.

"We don't associate audio clips with user accounts during the review process, and only perform reviews for around 0.2% of all clips", it added.

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