Share

Google workers are eavesdropping on your private conversations via its smart speakers

CLOSE

Not all voice assistants can handle the same requests. We put Siri, Alexa and Google to the test.
USA TODAY

As privacy concerns loom large over smart speakers, a new investigation has found that Google’s smart speakers might infringe on individual privacy more than buyers realize.

Even when Google Home smart speakers aren’t activated, the speakers are eavesdropping closely, often to private, intimate conversations, a report by Dutch broadcaster VRT has uncovered.

 Recordings found by VRT contain startling content: Couples’ quarrels that may have potentially resulted in domestic violence, explicit conversations in the bedroom, men searching for pornography, confidential business calls, and talks with children.

How does the technology work? The commands to activate Google Home speakers are “Hey, Google” and “OK, Google.” Once anyone says something that resembles those commands, Google Home starts to record.

The recordings are then sent to Google subcontractors, who review them later to aid Google in understanding how different languages are spoken. 

There are no policies in place, found VRT, if a subcontractor finds a recording of an individual in danger.

A Google spokesperson told USA TODAY that Google Assistant users must opt in to have their voice recordings stored on their account, and that users can still use their Google Home products without enabling the setting. 

Google adds that it only reviews 0.2% of audio recordings for transcription.

Google does, however, require users to turn on voice recording in order to use all of Google Home’s features.

A confusing ‘maze’: Amazon secretly recording and storing what your kids say, complaint says

Enough information is revealed in these recordings to gather sensitive details, like individual addresses. 

The whistleblower who reached out to VRT was a Dutch subcontractor hired to transcribe recorded audio for Google to use in its speech recognition technology. He reached out after discovering that Amazon’s Alexa, a direct competitor to Google Home, keeps its data indefinitely.

Google said in a statement that it is investigating the whistleblower “to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”  

This reports contradicts what Google states in its “commitment to privacy in the home.”

“Your device will only send audio to Google if we detect that you or someone in your home is interacting with your Assistant …  or if you use a feature that needs it,” writes the company. “You can always turn the microphone off.”

Post to Facebook

Posted!

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

  • Google's Kayitta Johnson gives a demonstration of the Nest Hub Max at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 1 of 15
  • The audio jack is shown on a Google Pixel 3a XL phone at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 2 of 15
  • Google's Alexander Hunter gives a demonstration of the Nest Hub Max at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 3 of 15
  • The new Nest Hub Max, right,  and the new Pixel 3a on display in the press lounge after they were introduced during the Google I/O keynote at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. on May 7, 2019.  4 of 15
  • Google's Android product manager Stephanie Cuthbertson demos upcoming enhancements to Android during the keynote at Google I/O at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. on May 7, 2019.5 of 15
  • Then new Pixel 3a displayed in the press lounge after it was introduced in the keynote at  Google I/O at the Shoreline on May 7, 2019.6 of 15
  • An attendee adjusts his headband before the start of the Google I/O conference keynote at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. on May 7, 2019. 7 of 15
  • Google's Rick Osterloh speaks about the Pixel 3a phone during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 8 of 15
  • Google's Stephanie Cuthbertson speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 9 of 15
  • Attendees look on as Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the 2019 Google I/O conference at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 7, 2019 in Mountain View, Calif. The annual Google I/O Conference runs through May 8. 10 of 15
  • Google's Aparna Chennapragada speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 11 of 15
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the 2019 Google I/O conference at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 7, 2019 in Mountain View, Calif. The annual Google I/O Conference runs through May 8. 12 of 15
  • Developer Jesus Suarez wears Google Glass glasses waits for the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 13 of 15
  • Attendees celebrate before the opening keynote address at the 2019 Google I/O conference at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 7, 2019 in Mountain View, California. The annual Google I/O Conference runs through May 8. 14 of 15
  • A group of attendees take photos while waiting in line for the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. 15 of 15

Article source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/604334894/0/usatoday-techtopstories~Google-workers-are-eavesdropping-on-your-private-conversations-via-its-smart-speakers/

Loading...

Best Wordpress Plugin development company in India     Best Web development company in India