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Google admits 1,000 sound recordings of customer conversations starting with "Hey Google" were leaked to a Belgian News Site

1  x cover trust no one


In May Patently Apple posted a report titled "With Apple leading the way, Google & Microsoft attempt to redefine their Companies as True Advocates of Privacy." In the report we pointed to the New York Times report titled "Google Says It Has Found Religion on Privacy." But have they?


Today we're learning that Google has admitted that more than 1,000 sound recordings of customer conversations with the Google Assistant were leaked by some of its partners to a Belgian news site.


These conversations are used by companies such as Google and Amazon -- which takes clips from the Amazon Echo -- to improve voice responses from their smart assistants. They are supposed to be kept confidential.


CNBC noted in their report that a "Belgian news site VRT said on Wednesday that a contractor provided it with samples of these sound samples, which VRT then used to identify some of the people in the clips. It also examined the sorts of conversations that Google collects when people say "OK Google," into a phone or a Google Home product.


Among other things, VRT heard customer addresses. Sources who talked to the publication also described hearing recordings of a woman in distress and people talking about medical conditions.


The Next Web report added that " VRT, with the help of a whistle-blower, was able to listen to some of these clips and subsequently heard enough to discern the addresses of several Dutch and Belgian people using Google Home — in spite of the fact some hadn’t even uttered the words “Hey Google,” which are supposed to be the device’s listening trigger.


While VRT only listened to recordings from Dutch and Belgian users, the platform the whistle-blower showed them had recordings from all over the world – which means there are probably thousands of other contractors listening to Assistant recordings.


Google product manager of search David Monsees added that "We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again."


You could learn more about Monsees commentary from his blog post here.  


It's unknown at this time if Apple uses outside contractors to study conversations triggered by the use of "Hey Siri."  


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