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Beware! Third-Party Contractors Secretly Listening to your Google Assistant Recordings

Reacting to this, Google said it only transcribes and uses "about 0.2 per cent of all audio clips", to improve their voice recognition technology

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The transcribers heard just everything: personal information, bedroom talks, domestic violence and what not. Wikimedia Commons

Not just your home speaker, smartphone or security camera, even third-party contractors are recording and secretly listening to your Google Assistant recordings, a new report has claimed.

According to Belgian broadcaster VRT News, your conversations with Google Home speakers are being recorded and audio clips are being sent to sub-contractors who are “transcribing the audio files for subsequent use in improving Google’s speech recognition”.

“VRT, with the help of a whistleblower, 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,” The Next Web reported on Wednesday.

The transcribers heard just everything: personal information, bedroom talks, domestic violence and what not. VRT “overheard countless men searching for porn, arguments between spouses, and even one case in which a woman seemed to be in an emergency situation”.

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This was despite the fact that some of Google Home users did not even say the wake word, “Hey Google”. Wikimedia Commons

The platform that the whistleblower showed to VRT had recordings from all over the world.
This was despite the fact that some of Google Home users did not even say the wake word, “Hey Google”. Reacting to this, Google said it only transcribes and uses “about 0.2 per cent of all audio clips”, to improve their voice recognition technology.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement that it has launched an investigation into this. The news comes at a time when Amazon Alexa is already facing scrutiny for allegedly recording conversations at home. Amazon has been sued by a Massachusetts woman on behalf of her 10-year-old daughter and children from eight other US states.

Filed in a federal court in Seattle, the lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving “voice prints” of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices, reports Vox news.

The woman has alleged the e-commerce giant for illegally recording children and adding them to “a massive database of billions of voice recordings containing the private details of millions of Americans”.

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Reacting to this, Google said it only transcribes and uses “about 0.2 per cent of all audio clips”, to improve their voice recognition technology. VOA

Earlier in May, US Senators and a group of 19 consumer and public health advocates accused Amazon for recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.

ALSO READ: Can Mimicking be Dangerous? Hackers Using Artificial Intelligence to Impersonate CEOs’ Voices

Amazon has time and again denied the charge that Alexa records private conversations. The company recently added support for new voice commands to let users ask Alexa to delete previous voice recordings. Amazon has also launched an “Alexa Privacy Hub”, supposed to offer an easy way to learn how Alexa works and find privacy controls.

The company has reportedly admitted it does not always delete the stored data that it obtains through its voice assistant Alexa and Echo line-up of smart devices. As reported by the CNET, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy, responded to Delaware Senator Chris Coons on June 28, informing that Amazon keeps the transcripts until users “manually delete the information”. (IANS)

Next Story

LG India Launches a Range of TVs with Built-in Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant

In addition, the TVs have two-way Bluetooth feature that lets users wirelessly listen to the TV audio on a compatible device and connect the smartphone with the TV to stream music

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LG
LG logo. Wikimedia Commons

LG Electronics India has launched a range of AI ThinQ televisions with built-in Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 support on Wednesday.

The TV sizes start from 80 cm (32-inch) to 195 cm (77-inch) are priced between Rs 24,990 and Rs 10,99,990. The OLED TVs start with a price tag of Rs 20,999, while the UHD series starts at Rs 50,990 and the NanoCell TVs can be purchased at a base price of Rs 82,990.

The company claims that the new lineup allows users to take voice control one step further with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, available out of the box, making LG the only TV brand to provide support for both leading AI platforms without the need for additional hardware.

“With this built-in technology, users of LG televisions will be able to do much more than simply watch TV like. They can read news updates, check weather forecast, order food, and can control their surroundings in a much easier and efficient way. We are confident that this new feature will elevate the home entertainment experience of both our existing and future consumer,” Younchul Park, Director-Home Entertainment, LG Electronics India, said.

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Smart televisions are becoming a popular trend.

The comapny has provided support for Dolby Atmos for an immersive surround sound experience. There is also an Alpha 9 Gen 2 processor that is touted to offer AI picture, AI sound, and AI brightness.

Also Read: Here’s How Facebook Fought Fake News About Itself

In addition, the TVs have two-way Bluetooth feature that lets users wirelessly listen to the TV audio on a compatible device and connect the smartphone with the TV to stream music.

“We are excited to offer the convenience of voice control with Alexa on the range of LG TVs. Customers are already loving the experience of controlling their home entertainment with Alexa and we are delighted that LG ThinQ will now have Alexa Built-in. It aligns with our vision for Alexa to be everywhere that customers want to interact with her,” Country Manager for Alexa Voice Services, Amazon India, added. (IANS)