Google moves to ease Assistant privacy fears - Mobile World Live

Google moves to ease Assistant privacy fears

24 SEP 2019

Google pledged not to allow its staff to listen to conversations on its voice Assistant without user consent, in a move designed to ease concerns around data privacy.

In a statement, senior product manager of Google Assistant Nino Tasca apologised for staff listening and transcribing audio data from the personal assistant, stating “it’s clear that we fell short of our high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used”.

It was revealed in July that the company’s workers listen to and review recordings of user interaction with the voice assistant. Tech giants Apple and Amazon also admitted to running similar programmes on their respective Siri and Alexa voice assistants.

Protections
Going forward, Google’s Tasca explained that human reviewers may listen to customers’ audio snippets to help improve speech technology only after users have confirmed they wish to do so. Even then, interactions won’t be associated with any user account, maintaining anonymity.

Tasca added Google is adding “greater security protections to this process, including an extra layer of privacy filters”, but didn’t elaborate in detail.

The internet giant also stated that Google Assistant deletes “any audio data when it realises it was activated unintentionally”.

In an effort to prevent undesired activation of the service, the company will add a way to adjust how sensitive Google Assistant devices are to prompts like “Hey Google”.

The new Google Assistant policy is expected later this year.

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Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Yanitsa joins Mobile World Live as a Reporter based in London. She has more than 5 years’ experience at various media outlets in her home country Bulgaria. She started her career as a political reporter, followed by taking editor roles...

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