Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
- Google representatives apparently told a government panel that the Assistant secretly records user audio.
- The company also reiterated that its employees sometimes listen to Google Assistant conversations.
Google has reportedly admitted that the Google Assistant records user audio even when it’s not triggered by the “Ok Google” hotword.
According to IndiaToday‘s sources, Google representatives apparently told a government panel in India that its employees listen to recordings of conversations between users and the Google Assistant. While this is something Google has previously accepted, sources also told the publication that the company admitted that its AI assistant sometimes records audio on a smartphone or a smart speaker even when it’s not summoned by the user.
Google earlier claimed that its employees listen to recordings of what users say to the Google Assistant to improve its speech recognition technology for different languages. The company said that only a fraction of the audio is accessible to its employees and that they don’t listen to sensitive conversations. However, there’s no information about how Google distinguishes between sensitive and general conversations. Also, in 2019, one of Google’s language reviewers had leaked confidential audio data to a Belgian news outlet.
Moreover, Google didn’t explain why Assistant records user audio when it’s not triggered by a voice command. We know that the digital helper is always listening for its trigger word, just like Amazon’s Alexa, but our understanding till now was that it only records conversations after it hears “Hey Google” or “OK Google.” If what Google has reportedly admitted is true, it opens up a pandora’s box of privacy issues.
Another senior official from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said, “The government is looking into the issue of companies like Google not deleting the stored data as a rule and keeping the transcripts until a user manually deletes the information.”