Big Tech giant Google has admitted that its employees do in fact listen to people’s conversations which are recorded by Google Assistant although the users might not have uttered the trigger phrase of “Hey Google.”
The admission from the Big Tech giant slipped out at a closed-door meeting its representatives had with officials from the Indian government, according to reports in the Indian media.
IndiaToday cited sources as revealing that Google admitted its AI assistant from time to time would make audio recordings on a smartphone or a smart speaker without having been summoned.
Google reacted to the reports by seeking to blur the admission it can singled-handedly spy at will on anybody using its AI assistant.
To that end, it released a statement to Android Authority.
One of the ultimate Big Tech companies out there stated that when it’s on standby, its device records short snippets of audio in order to detect an activation when “Hey Google” is uttered.
Then, according to Google, if it doesn’t detect activation, the recorded audio snippets are not saved or sent to Google – quite a rationale for random eavesdropping, spying, and surveillance by a huge corporation, without any mandate from an elected government or lawmakers, and with no accountability whatsoever!
According to the statement, when Google Assistant does detect a trigger, its recording “can include a few seconds” before the actual activation so that the user’s request can be caught “at the right time.”
This basically appears to mean that there’s constant recording, all the time, since a trigger to activate the assistant could theoretically come at any moment – so much for the Big Tech corporation not abusing its surveillance capabilities of gigantic proportions with utterly arbitrary rules drafted by itself, with only Google knowing whether it’s actually even sticking to them.
On previous occasions, Google has admitted that its employees do listen to brief recordings as a way of improving language comprehension for its products.
Back in 2019, Google Search product manager David Monsees said the company was partnering with language experts from around the globe in order to be able to understand accents and language nuances.
He argued that was necessary for the development of speech technology and the creation of products such as Google Assistant.
That is why “language experts” would listen to and transcribe a “small set of queries” – seemingly recorded without any consent from the unaware users.
Because of the backlash back then, Google altered its policies so as to require the users of Home of Nest to opt-in with respect to the recording of voice searches.
Users can check whether they have opted in or out in the “My Activity” section of their Google accounts.