Google allegedly admitted that it records and listens to its users through the Assistant

The open secret that Google recorded conversations of its users was confirmed. It turns out that through the medium India Today the company admitted that on some occasions it records and listens to brief talks through the Virtual Assistant.

According to the outlet, Google representatives told that country's Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that their employees listen to some recordings of users with the Google Assistant.

This confirms for the first time what was once an open story, namely that the technology company listens to part of its users' conversations without the need for the user to activate the Assistant with the word "Ok Google".

Media sources pointed out that to the express question of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, the Google team admitted that sometimes the Google Assistant records audios on a smartphone or smart speaker, even when a user has not activated Artificial Intelligence (AI).El asistente de Google se activa diciendo "Ok Google" o "Hola Google" (Foto: EuropaPress)The Google assistant is activated by saying 'Ok Google' or 'Hello Google' (Photo: EuropaPress)

In defense, google's team told the Indian parliament that it does not listen to sensitive information and that the company has only recorded and listened to general conversations, however, they did not detail how they make the distinction between one and the other.

On the other hand, it was recalled that users always have the option to review their audio activity and use the option to delete any conversation that the Google Assistant has saved, either accidentally or deliberately.

However, in 2019,the company noted that occasionally its employees listened to recordings made with the virtual assistant, which were about 0.2%, after the user opted for Voice and Audio Activity (VAA), while setting up the Google Assistant.Las grabaciones serían para mejorar el servicio de idioma (Foto: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)The recordings would be to improve the language service (Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

"We took a number of precautions to protect data during the human review process: audio fragments are never associated with any user account and language experts only listen to a small set of queries (about 0.2% of all users' audio fragments), only from users with VAA enabled," Google noted at the time," Google said at the time.

According to the panel members, the recordings represent a minuscule proportion of conversations that the Google Assistant has with users and that are listened to only for the purpose of improving the system.

The recordings are used so that "language experts can listen to and transcribe audio data from the Google Assistant to help improve speech technology in different languages."

Google Assistant Records Audio Even When You're Not Using It, Company Reportedly  Admits - VNExplorer

Google responds

Faced with the accusations of the Indian parliament, the company said through the media Android Authority that said hearing was behind closed doors, so it is unidentified sources that have been cited and stressed that the Assistant is only activated when the user says "Ok Google".

"In standby mode, the device processes short audio fragments (a few seconds) to detect an activation, such as when you say Hello Google. If no activation is detected, those audio fragments will not be sent or saved to Google," they said.

They noted that even after the wake word the Assistant can take a few seconds to properly pick up the request, however, they did not point out anything about the fact that some workers can access to listen to conversations between the user and the Virtual Assistant.

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