Recently, tech giant Google admitted that some employees do listen to audio calls by users of its smart devices such as “Google Home.”
Language experts are employed to analyse “snippets” of recordings made by users, which Google claims helps improve its voice recognition technology.
This is then used to develop the Google Assistant artificial intelligence system, which is used in its Google Home smart speakers and Android smartphones.
The company claimed that such policies were implemented in an effort to better suit the languages, accents, and dialects of various users.
While Google has repeatedly denied actively listening in to users’ conversations, its recent admission that audio captured by Home and Assistant devices was, in fact, collected as data, has caused immediate alarm.
The news came after one of the company’s contracted language experts leaked recorded audio to a Dutch media outlet, prompting attempts at damage control from Google.
In response, the company said it was “investigating,” and promised “we will take action.”
Google product manager David Monsees said the company was “conducting a full review of our safeguards,” which he said was in an effort “to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”
Monsees, however, also defended the policy of having contracted linguistic experts to study recordings, which he said was tantamount to improving Google’s ability to better address the needs of its users across the world.
The new information regarding Google’s policies towards recording and analyzing conversations has caused alarm among cybersecurity experts and others, who have pointed out that various concerns, including the interception of sensitive information.
For Google, the news comes as yet another black eye for the embattled tech giant, which has faced increasing scrutiny over privacy concerns, data collection, political bias, and other scandals in recent years.
The latest news regarding Google’s shadowy recording practices comes as no surprise to many, as the company has long faced allegations of shadowy tracking of users.