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Google will ask before listening to your conversations


Google workers will listen to audio snippets from people speaking to their digital voice assistant to help improve product quality – if users give the company permission to do so.

Alphabet Inc.'s Google pauses all human review of assistant audio in July after a Dutch contractor leaked some clips to a journalist who was then able to identify specific people on the recordings. On Monday, Google was bringing back human reviewers, but adding a new set of precautions to protect customers' privacy.

Google and other companies like Inc. use human transcription to check machine translators and make them smarter. The practice is widespread, but has made some users nervous that giant corporations are monitoring them. The companies maintain that audio snippets linked to personally identifiable information.

Nino Tasca, senior product manager at Google's Assistant team, said in a blog post. The company is also trying to more accurately recognize the audio that was captured accidentally. Usually, the assistant only listens when a person says, "Hey, Google," but occasionally the computer might misinterpret something else as that "wake word" and begin listening when the customer is aware.

“We believe in putting you in control of your data and we always work to keep it safe. We are committed to being transparent about how our settings work so you can decide what works best for you, ”the company said in a blog post.

Google also said users can view their past interactions with the voice assistant and delete any of them at any time.

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