GDPR regulators go after Google Assistant. Google ordered to halt human review of voice AI recordings over privacy risks.
It’s not news that Google doesn’t care about privacy, but that they are being called on it under GDPR is most definitely news.
A German privacy watchdog has ordered Google to cease manual reviews of audio snippets generated by its voice AI.
This follows a leak last month of scores of audio snippets from the Google Assistant service. A contractor working as a Dutch language reviewer handed more than 1,000 recordings to the Belgian news site VRT.
They notified all the relevant regulators (in Ireland as it turns out) about the breach. They defended the practice as needed to get the AI to understand different accents.
But it’s far from clear whether human review of audio recordings captured by any of the myriad always-on voice AI products and services now on the market will be able to be compatible with European’s fundamental privacy rights.
These AIs typically have trigger words for activating the recording function which streams audio data to the cloud. But the technology can easily be accidentally triggered — and leaks have shown they are able to hoover up sensitive and intimate personal data not just of their owner but anyone in their vicinity (which of course includes people who never got within sniffing distance of any T&Cs)