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Google admits listening to Google Assistant interactions

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In India, Google has reportedly told a Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT that its employees listen to interactions users have with the Google Assistant. Employees at Google listen to recordings of customer conversations with their Google Assistant on both smartphones and smart speakers. Google also admitted that conversations were recorded at times, even when the users hadn’t used the wake words. The company has apparently said that only general conversation was recorded and no sensitive information was heard. But the company didn’t mention how it separates sensitive conversations from general ones, or even what it considers sensitive and non-sensitive. Obviously members who were included in the panel are considering this act a serious breach of user privacy and it will make recommendations to the government accordingly in its report to the government. The Parliamentary panel has also asked questions off Facebook, Twitter and other tech platforms in India in the past. The same panel had questioned tech giants in January this year as well, and the result of these hearings are yet to be seen. A member from the panel said that the terms and conditions do not mention that Google’s own employees can listen to the recordings, which is a breach of privacy. But Google’s terms and conditions clearly state that audio recordings between the company’s products are recorded and stored. Google can use these for moderation purposes and to improve its own AI. The question here is whether anyone else at Google can listen to these recordings, and what accountability the company holds in case they get lead. 

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