Google uses several language experts around the world to review a specific language to help Google Assistant work better and the company has confirmed that one of its language reviewers leaked confidential Dutch audio data — violating the company’s data security policies.
According to Google, a language reviewer transcribes a small set of queries, which helps their Assistant better understand the language. These reviewers only get access to about 0.2% of the complete set of audio snippets. These snippets aren’t linked to specific user accounts and the reviewers are told not to transcribe any background conversation or noise that isn’t directed to Google.
“We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action,” says David Monsees, Product Manager, Search. “We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”
But how did the language reviewer get hold of confidential Dutch audio? Did the Google Assistant record the user when it wasn’t supposed to? Is that even possible? Well, yes it is.
While the Google Assistant is supposed to record and send audio to Google after detecting trigger words like ‘Hey Google’ or ‘Ok Google’, it’s also possible that the Assistant might experience a ‘false accept’.
A false accept happens when the software misinterprets the user’s voice for its activation command and begins recording the conversation. Even though Google has protections in place to prevent this from happening, the company accepts that it isn’t impossible.
“Rarely, devices that have the Google Assistant built in may experience what we call a false accept.”
On Thursday, Google Translate’s instant camera was updated with support for 60 more languages. Now the app can translate from a total of 88 languages into 100+ languages including Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Nepali, Sindhi, Pashto, Thai, Arabic, Malay and Vietnamese. You can check the entire list of supported languages as well as new features on the Translate app in our report here.