Do you think google assistant is listening to your conversation?
You figured that Google Assistant was listening to you, right? It turns out that you were right. Whenever you use Google Assistant or talk to your Google Assistant, there’s a great chance that someone or Google might listen to the audio from that conversation. This is revealing for some reason, not the least of which is that Google obviously records, saves, and transmits your voice data in such a way that it can be accessed by actual people. So much for privacy.
In a blog post published by David Monsees, Google’s product manager for search, the company says: “These language specialists review and transcribe a small set of queries which help us to better understand those languages. This is a crucial part of the process of making speech technology, and is very much important for creating products like the Google Assistant or Amazon Eco.”
Google says its purpose for having human listen to your discussions with Google Assistant is to improve performance in numerous languages. That disclosure came in response to a leak of audio by an employee of Google referred to as a “language reviewer.”
Google Assistant is listening to your conversation
Every time you say “OK Google,” or manually access the Google Assistant feature on your smartphone or Google Home, your communications are recorded and those recordings are then actually reviewed by the employees that Google says are used to improve its products. However, in addition to listening when you give a command, sometimes your device will experience what Google calls a “false accept,” which means that your conversation is recorded even though you’re not directly connected with Google Assistant, and haven’t given the wake command.
That means it’s possible for Google’s employees to listen to audio recorded when you’re talking to anyone on the phone, even when you’re not interacting with a Google device. As for your personal information taken, Google says that it’s just 0.2% of all audio snippets that end up being listened to by the company’s language reviewers. And the company allows you to delete these snippets manually, or automatically after a period of time.
Still, this news signifies a substantial difference in the way Google operates its voice assistant and its revealing of why people have such a hard time trusting the company. Even if the cause for listening is completely gentle, the continuous stream of news about data breaches, privacy concerns, and even supervisory investigations makes it difficult and harder to give the company the benefit of the doubt.
Google Assistant and Big tech companies are getting harder to trust.
I think most of the people assume that Google’s devices are listening, monitoring, recording, and examining pretty much every interaction with the company’s products like search and Photos. But I think that many of us never give much importance to the fact that it is quite possible that actual people might be listening on the other end.
And the fact that your voice data is transmitted to contractors for any reason means that there’s always a chance that it could be leaked or put at risk. In fact, that’s exactly what happened here. A Dutch contractor leaked sensitive voice recordings. With Apple’s Siri assistant, for example, the processing of most voice commands happens on the device, and the only information sent to the cloud is a request for specific information, like a sports score or directions.
Apple also doesn’t record your voice waiting for you to say “Hey Siri,” and if it does capture voice audio, the actual recording of your voice never leaves the device. As I’ve written here before, your personal information and privacy are increasingly at risk. Tech companies don’t have the best track record at honoring boundaries with your personal information or privacy and haven’t exactly done a great job of protecting that information either.
For Google Assistant trust is your most valuable asset
Trust is quickly becoming a company’s most valuable brand asset, especially if you are a tech company. Even if you aren’t, there’s an opportunity to distinguish your brand by the way you treat your customers and their information. In fact, there’s an opportunity to recognize that your users aren’t your product, and even if your business model is based on selling ads, it’s possible to do it in a way that balances your need for information without violating the privacy of your users.
There will always be a trade-off anytime you use technology–especially when it involves listening to your voice, understanding what you’re saying, and providing your information–but be educated about that trade-off so you make an informed decision and count the cost.
How to Stop Google Assistant From Listening on Android
You can disable Google’s voice recording with a certain toggle in your Android settings. If you like, you can also go further after changing this.
Turn Off “OK Google” on Your Phone
The first is to turn off the OK Google detection on your phone, which you can do by performing the following:
- Open Settings on your phone and enter the Google
- Under Services, select Account services.
- Next, tap Search, Assistant & Voice.
- Hit Voice on the resulting page.
- You’ll see a Voice Matchentry; tap it.
- Disable the Access with Voice Match slider to disable OK Google
You may also want to disable While driving to prevent it in Google Maps and Android Auto, though it is convenient in those scenarios.
If you want to erase Google’s profile of your voice used for this feature, select Delete voice model.
Once you do this, Google Assistant will not respond to OK Google. Previously, it still would when you had the Google app open, but in our testing, it did not respond even with Google search open or on the home screen.
Your phone thus will no longer always be listening for the hot word.
Turn Off Microphone Access for the Google App
To go further, you can deny the Google app permission to access your microphone:
Open Settings on your phone and select Apps & notifications.
Tap See all X apps to get a full list.
Scroll down to Google and select it.
Tap Permissions and select the Microphone
Choose to Deny permission.