Google Assistant spies on you even when it’s not activated, confirmed

Google has admitted that its Assistant spies on users’ conversations without them saying a voice command. The firm has already revealed that employees listen to the tapes, but stop when a sensitive subject is brought up. Without giving more details.

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Last April, we reported to you that Google Assistant will soon recognize certain voice commands without having to say “OK Google” in the preamble. While this feature certainly marks a breakthrough in technology, it necessarily raises many questions as to how it works and to the ethical limits with which she flirts. If there is no longer a need to activate the device with the usual catchphrase, then that means the device has to be constantly listening, right? The answer is yes, at the risk of recording private conversations.

When asked by the Indian government on this subject, Google had no choice but to admit that its Assistant spies on its users without even having it activated. The firm has revealed in the past that its employees listen to user conversations. However, she quickly justified herself by ensuring “Take a number of precautions during the audio exam” and “Snippets are never associated with a particular user”. Later, the company even went blank by disabling the default voice recording, which is now required activate via a specific option.

Google is listening at all times

However, this is the first time that Google has announced that its Assistant is recording conversations without it being activated. Even though the manufacturer claims that its employees do not listen to “Sensitive conversations”, he did not expand on the specific characteristics that allow these conversations to be recognized nor on the methods used to protect the privacy of its users.

Moreover, this practice is never mentioned in the general conditions of use of the application. The only passage that can come close is the following: “Occasionally the Assistant will activate when you didn’t want it because it incorrectly detected that you wanted its help (for example, via noise that sounds like ‘OK, Google’). If that happens, just say “OK Google, that wasn’t for you,” and the Assistant will delete the last record it sent to Google. “

On the same subject: Google Assistant finally allows you to program your connected objects by voice

Google will spy on you whether you like it or not

But at no time does Google indicate that The Assistant stores recordings without the user being informed. During the hearing, representatives of the firm did not explain the reasons for such a feature. Of course, it seems logical that the smartphone or the connected speaker constantly seeks to detect the pronunciation of a voice command. However, it is not certain that all users accept that their voice is recorded without their consent.

Especially since no solution seems to exist to interrupt this process. Google Assistant has recently offered private browsing mode, which prevents data collection by the manufacturer, but the latter seems to be useless if the recording is active all the time. The Indian government, for its part, seems very worried about the protection of the privacy of its citizens. “In its privacy policies, Google indicates that it shares personal information with third-party companies when it has user consent. This is a serious breach of user privacy “, said an audience member.

In theory, it is possible at any time to delete all data stored by Google Assistant. To do this, simply go to the Google Home application, then click on My activity. Once the web page is open, you just have to select the records you want to delete. However, it is not specified whether these also relate to those kept without your knowledge.

Source: India Today

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