GOOGLE allegedly admitted to listening to conversations recorded by Google Assistant even without a user's "Hey Google" trigger.
The tech giant made the admission during a closed-door meeting with Indian government officials, according to a report, though Google has attempted to clarify the claims.
Sources also told IndiaToday the company admitted that its AI assistant will at times record audio on a smartphone or smart speaker even when it hasn't been summoned.
Google clarified how the assistant system works in a statement to Android Authority.
"In standby mode, the device processes short snippets of audio (a few seconds) to detect an activation — like when you say, 'Hey Google.'
"If no activation is detected, then those audio snippets won't be sent or saved to Google."
The statement also noted that when the Assistant detects its wake word, "the recording can include a few seconds before you activate your Assistant to catch your request at the right time."
Google has previously admitted that employees listen to short recordings to improve language comprehension in its products.
"As part of our work to develop speech technology for more languages, we partner with language experts around the world who understand the nuances and accents of a specific language," David Monsees, product manager for Google Search, explained in 2019.
"These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages. This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology, and is necessary to create products like the Google Assistant."
Google has since changed its policies, requiring Home or Nest users to opt into having voice searches recorded in the first place, in response to the backlash.
If you're unsure whether you opted in or out, or if you're just curious to know what Google's recorded about you, there are ways to check.
CHECKING GOOGLE RECORDINGS
All of your Google activity can be found in the "My Activity" section of your Google account.
In there you'll find everything from your Google Maps entries to your search engine queries.
You can read a list in the Google Home app or actually listen back to your own voice search history if it has been recorded.
Thankfully, you can also easily erase your history by deleting recordings on your PC and deleting recordings on your phone.
HOW TO TURN OFF VOICE AND AUDIO
If you have previously opted-in to Google saving your audio or voice commands you can easily stop the devices from doing so.
However, it will cause voice searching with Google Assistant to stop working until it's re-enabled.
On a PC, you can access the feature by clicking on the settings bar in the top left corner of myactivity.google.com.
From there, hit "Activity Controls" on the menu and toggle "Audio Recordings" on or off.
Google will ask if you're sure and tell you a bit more about what pausing voice and audio means.
If you still wish to proceed, click "I Agree." If not, hit "No thanks."
If you're on the mobile app, you tap your profile icon on the top right, tap "My Activity" and then "Saving Activity."
From there you can once again toggle the feature on or off.
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