Google Assistant is listening to you, but it's okay

Google Assistant is secretly listening to you, but it's okay
UPDATE (July 2): Google representatives got back to us with some clarifications stating that: "Google Assistant is designed to wait in standby mode until it is activated, like when you say “Hey Google”. In standby mode, it processes short snippets of audio (a few seconds) to detect an activation. If no activation is detected, then those audio snippets won’t be sent or saved to Google." Furthermore, "By default, we (Google) don't retain your audio recordings and you can change your settings at any time." So, as it actually turns out, the devil is not so black after all, and some of the points made during the deposition in India might have been misinterpreted. 

In a strange turn of events, Google allegedly confirmed that Google Assistant on your phone or smart speaker may be recording your audio without your knowledge, but just “at times”.

According to IndiaToday, Google representatives on Tuesday told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that Google employees listen to some recordings of conversations between users and Google Assistant.

Back in 2019, Google confirmed that its employees occasionally listen to conversations between users and Google Assistant. "We take a number of precautions to protect data during the human review process-audio snippets are never associated with any user accounts and language experts only listen to a small set of queries (around 0.2 percent of all user audio snippets), only from users with VAA turned on," Google stated at the time.

That’s all in the fine print but as it turns out, sometimes audio was recorded by the Google Assistant on a smartphone or smart speaker even when a user had not triggered the AI by saying Ok Google. IndiaToday sources claim that in response to a question from BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, the Google team confirmed the aforementioned.

Google’s privacy policy states, “Occasionally, the Assistant will activate when you didn’t intend it to because it incorrectly detected that you wanted its help (like by a noise that sounds like “Hey, Google”). If that happens, just say Hey Google, that wasn’t for you, and the Assistant will delete the last thing it sent to Google.”

That’s all fine and dandy but there’s nothing about the times when Google Assistant is secretly listening to your conversations. How would you know in the first place? It’s a major scandal that has the potential to blow way out of proportion! We’re monitoring the situation closely and we’ll keep you posted if there’s any further information.

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