Tuesday 20 August 2019

Google now admits its speaker was keeping copy of user chats

Listening: Google Home audio snippets have been recorded
Listening: Google Home audio snippets have been recorded

Aine Kenny

The Data Protection Commissioner is considering a report from Google after the tech giant alerted it to a potential data breach.

It came after it emerged that Google's Home smart speaker may have been inadvertently recording conversations among its users.

The Irish Independent understands the commissioner will consider whether any Irish customers have had their data compromised.

However, the exact details of what was in the report are unclear.

Graham Doyle, head of communications at the Irish Data Protection Commission, confirmed it had received a breach notification from Google on Thursday night.

"We are currently assessing the information," said Mr Doyle.

Google confirmed yesterday in a blog post that extracts from recorded conversations are supplied to language analysts in order to improve the tech giant's voice-recognition system.

"As part of our work to develop speech technology for more languages, we partner with language experts around the world who understand the nuances and accents of a specific language. These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages," said David Monsees, product manager for search.

"Language experts only review around 0.2pc of all audio snippets.

"Audio snippets are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process, and reviewers are directed not to transcribe background conversations or other noises, and only to transcribe snippets that are directed to Google."

David Lewis, assistant professor in knowledge and data engineering at Trinity College said: "When companies say they collect recordings to improve their service, this entails employees listening to these recordings and transcribing the conversations. This is on a sampling basis, so 0.2 pc of all conversations.

"But people are only now realising what's actually involved."

Irish Independent

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