Google workers will hear audio snippets from people who talk to their digital voice assistant to help improve product quality as long as users authorize the company to do so.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google suspended his assistant’s human audio reviews in July, after a Dutch contractor leaked some clips to a journalist, who was then able to identify specific people in the recordings. On Monday, Google said it will re-establish its human reviewers, but included a new set of precautionary measures to protect customers’ privacy.
Google and other companies like Amazon.com Inc. use human transcriptions to verify their automatic translators and make them smarter. The practice is widespread, but it has made some users nervous because giant corporations are monitoring them. The companies argue that audio fragments are not linked to personally identifiable information.
According to Google’s new policy, the company will inform users that their audios can be heard if they opt for a feature that also improves audio quality, said Nino Tasca, senior product manager of the Google Assistant team, in a post Blog. In addition, the company tries to more accurately recognize the accidentally captured audios. Usually, the wizard only listens when a person says “hello, Google,” but occasionally the computer may misunderstand more than that “activation word” and start listening when the client doesn’t notice.
“We believe in giving you control of your data and we always work to keep it safe. We are committed to being transparent about how our configuration works so you can decide what works best for you,” the company said in a blog post.
In addition, Google said users can view their previous interactions with the voice assistant and delete them at any time.