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Google admits workers listen to private audio recordings from Google Home smart speakers



Google employees listen to customer audio recordings on Google Home smart speakers, the tech giant acknowledged.

Language experts are used to analyze user "snippets" of recordings, which Google says helps improve speech recognition technology.

This is then used to develop Google Assistant's artificial intelligence system, which is used in its Google Home smart speakers and Android smartphones.


The wizard understands and responds to voice commands, answers questions about news and weather, and can also control other Internet-connected devices at home.

In a statement, the company said that a small number of anonymous recordings had been transcribed by its experts and had revealed that an investigation had been opened following the leakage of some Dutch audio data .

"We work in partnership with language experts around the world to improve speech technology by transcribing a small number of queries. This work is essential to the development of a technology that powers products such as Google Assistant, "said Google.

"Language experts only check about 0.2% of all sound clips, and they are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process."

The statement continues: "We have just learned that one of these reviewers violated our data security policies by disclosing confidential Dutch audio data.

"Our security and privacy teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating and we will take action.

"We are currently conducting a comprehensive review of our warranties in this space to prevent such reprehensible behavior from happening again."

Participant Spends Nest Product Show at Google I / O 2016 at Shoreline Amphitheater on May 19, 2016 in Mountain View, California (Getty Images)

Earlier this year, a Bloomberg report revealed that fellow technology giant Amazon was also listening to some customer interaction recordings with her voice assistant, Alexa.

Amazon confirmed the process by stating that it had done so with a small number of recordings in order to contribute to the formation of artificial intelligence responses.

The company also indicated that users could also view and delete records related to their account via the Alexa companion app.

On Monday, the NHS announced a new partnership with Amazon that will provide access to verified medical information based on the NHS website provided via Alexa.

Privacy officials claimed that it was "a disaster in data protection pending," but the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock said the NHS should adopt the technology.

Additional reports from the agencies.


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