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Google detects leakage of smart recordings

Google Home speaker

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PA Media


Records of lines and confidential data have been found in the disclosed information

Google is investigating the leak of 1,000 conversations recorded by one of its smart speakers.

The Belgian broadcaster VRT exposed the recordings made by Google Home devices in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The research giant said the recordings came from one of the human reviewers that helps refine Home's language skills.

She testified that she took steps to protect the privacy of those whose examiners sampled the recordings.

Critical Review

The VRT stated that the majority of the reviewed recordings were short clips recorded by Google Home devices, the owners having used them.

However, 153 were "conversations that should never have been recorded" because the phrase "OK Google" has not been given.

These involuntarily recorded exchanges included:

  • flamboyant rows
  • room chatter
  • parents talk to their children
  • phone calls exposing confidential information

He stated that he thought the devices had recorded these conversations because users had uttered a word or phrase similar to "OK Google" that triggered the device.

Responding in his blog to VRT, Google said it shared recordings with experts who "understood the nuances and accents" of specific languages ​​to make the speaker more specific.

"This is an essential part of the development process of speech technology," he added, adding that record storage is disabled by default when users start using domestic appliances.

He added that he was trying to find out how one of his subcontractors could give the VRT access to the database of recorded conversations.

"Our security and privacy teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating and we will act," he writes.

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