Just three months ago, Amazon was revealed that he was sending his anonymous and very private anonymous Alexa records to humans who listen to and process audio to help the wizard become smarter. It turns out that it may not be the only one to do it. A new report claims that even Google could be guilty of the same thing, with Google Home recording clips even without the usual "Hey Google" trigger.
There are two levels to this supposed revelation. The first is that Google Home apparently records audio even if no request is made explicitly. Smart speaker manufacturers can defend this behavior by saying that speakers must be on alert for wake-up phrases. However, these would also say that the speakers do not actually keep an audio recording.
According to a whistleblower who claims to be a Google subcontractor, this is not the case. These clips, as well as regular registered Google Assistant orders, are sent to companies that perform the same markup and processing of clips to improve artificial intelligence performance. The problem is that these clips can be quite revealing.
Given all that people can reveal about themselves when they assume that no one is listening, it may not take much to investigate and find the source of such clips. Some of these recordings also contain legally dubious content, but the listeners have not received guidance on how to handle such situations. The whistleblower stated that Google was trying to anonymize the data, but that the Belgian broadcaster VRT could have inferred Dutch and Belgian users.
Google says that it uses only 0.2% of all audio clips recorded by its speakers for transcription. It does not exactly solve the problems raised by the broadcaster, but we can probably guess what its answer will be. Needless to say, this again puts the smart speakers in a negative light, although it's probably a Facebook-like scandal to drive down sales and popularity.