#Privacy: Google adds new safeguards for Assistant

Google

Google has announced that it will be doing more to protect user privacy with the Assistant. 

In a blog post, Nino Tasca, Senior Product Manager of Google Assistant addressed prior concerns surrounding the transcription process, whereby language experts listen to and transcribe audio data from the Google Assistant. 

“It’s clear that we fell short of our high standards in making it easy for you to understand how your data is used, and we apologize.”

Following learning about the concerns, Google immediately paused the process of human transcription to investigate. Subsequently, Google has now announced that it will resume human audio reviews of Assistant recordings, however this time new safeguards are being put in place. 

Google explained that audio data is not stored by default and has been the case for a while. If a user wants to store audio data, they can choose to opt in to the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) setting when they set-up Assistant. By opting in the VVA, it helps Assistant to improve and better recognise a user’s voice over time. 

Google will be updating their settings to emphasise that when VAA is turned on, human reviewers may listen to audio snippets to help improve speech technology. Existing Assistant users will have the option to review their VAA setting and confirm their preference before the human review process resumes. 

Unitil a user has re-confirmed their VAA setting is on, Google will not include a user’s audio in the process. 

“Going forward, we’re adding greater security protections to this process, including an extra layer of privacy filters.”

Additionally in the blog post it stated that Google will begin to automatically delete VAA audio that is linked to accounts that older than a few months. 

“We believe in putting you in control of your data, and we always work to keep it safe. We’re committed to being transparent about how our settings work so you can decide what works best for you”


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