There’s a good chance that a real person has listened to some
of your Google Assistant queries. A report from a whistleblower
working for Google has revealed that the company is using
contractors to transcribe roughly 0.2 percent of the questions that
are posed to the Google Assistant in an effort to improve the
system. While 0.2 percent may not sound like a big number, it means
that roughly one out of every 500 “OK, Google” queries has been
listened to and manually transcribed.
This news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since it was
recently revealed that Amazon is basically doing the same thing
with Alexa. All of the Google Assistant queries that are being
listened to are de-coupled from the user’s account, so there is
no digital trace back to who the voice belongs to.
Unfortunately, the whistleblower who brought this to light
managed to share thousands of recordings with
VRT News for the story, compromising any user privacy security
measures Google had in place. Many of the recordings that VRT News
listened to include personal information with the users revealing
their names, addresses and other information. Google’s Home
products so not start recording until audio until they hear the
“OK, Google” or Hey, Google” trigger phrases, but they can
often pick up on a similar-sounding phrase and start listening on
their own by accident.
Operated under the assumption that someone would eventually be
listening to by Google Assistant queries is one thing, but having
someone who’s been employed to do so share that information with
an external source is something that should never happen. Google
needs to find a way to remedy the issue and ensure that the data it
collects on its users remains where it belongs.
Source: FS – Phones
Time to panic? Real people are listening in on your Google Assistant queries