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Tech Giant Google Discusses its Data Privacy Before Senate Hearing

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is also heading to Washington, DC amid "concerns about privacy, suspicion about his company's relationship with China" and a reported "censored Search" engine for the country

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Google discusses data privacy before Senate hearing. Pixabay
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As US lawmakers geared up to grill tech giants again on data privacy, Google said the organisations must operate with respect for individuals’ interests when they process personal information.

In a three-page framework, Google said companies must be transparent about the types of personal information they collect, why they collect it, and how they use or disclose it, particularly when used to make decisions about the individual.

The Google framework came as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation was set to discuss data privacy on Wednesday with tech companies including Google, Apple, AT&T, Amazon and Twitter.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Google Chief Privacy Officer Keith Enright said the users have long entrusted the company to be responsible with their data and they take that trust and responsibility very seriously.

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Google on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“Google products and features cannot launch until they are approved by the specialists in our Privacy and Data Protection Office, which solicits input from across Google, as well as periodically from users and experts worldwide,” said Enright.

“More than any other time I have worked in this field, there is real momentum to develop baseline rules of the road for data protection. Google welcomes this and supports comprehensive, baseline privacy regulation,” he added.

Enright, who will be present at the Senate panel meeting, shared the company’s thoughts on what data protection regulation should look like in the US.

“People deserve to feel comfortable that all entities that use personal information will be held accountable for protecting it.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

“We believe that regulation can support a dynamic marketplace for businesses of all types and sizes,” Enright noted, adding that he looks forward to working with policymakers and all stakeholders on regulation that protects consumers and enables innovation.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is also heading to Washington, DC amid “concerns about privacy, suspicion about his company’s relationship with China” and a reported “censored Search” engine for the country.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Pichai will meet with Republican lawmakers on Friday and plans to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing after the mid-term elections in November. (IANS)

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Google Rolls Out Gender Specific Translation to Reduce Bias

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch

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Google starts rolling out gender specific translation to reduce bias. Pixabay

In a bid to reduce gender biases in its translation service, Google has started rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.

The feature is currently available only for a few languages, although Google plans to bring it to more languages soon.

So one can now translate single words from English to languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish. As of now, translations for short phrases and sentences that mention a person in a gender-neutral way is available for the English and Turkish language pair.

“In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete,” James Kuczmarski, Product Manager, Google Translate, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web.

Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed.

For example, it would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful.”

“Now you’ll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word – like ‘surgeon’ when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish,” Kuczmarski said.

Also Read- Robots May Be Able to Perform C-Sections Soon

“You’ll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type ‘o bir doktor’ in Turkish, you’ll now get ‘she is a doctor’ and ‘he is a doctor’ as the gender-specific translations,” Kuczmarski said.

The new feature is part of Google’s efforts to promote fairness and reduce bias in Machine Learning.

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch. (IANS)