Google responds to privacy concerns regarding the Assistant, changes some policies

In the past few months, tech giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and more have come under scrutiny due to their policies regarding user interaction with digital assistants. More specifically, these situations have had to do with human workers listening to audio recordings made through assistants. In July, one of Google's language reviewers was confirmed to have leaked private audio data, with the Mountain View giant quickly putting out a statement to assure users that its Assistant security policies were being reviewed.

These changes are now finally being implemented, with Google today clarifying its privacy policy and also announcing alterations being made to it to protect user privacy in a better way.

After apologizing for not getting it right the first time, Google said that a full review of its systems and controls had been conducted to ensure protection against situations like the aforementioned. Furthermore, the company stressed that audio data hasn't ever been stored by default, and this will continue to remain the case. Audio data is stored only when the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) option is selected by users upon installation. Past interactions can also be viewed and deleted separately at any point in time of the users' choosing.

It is now also going to much clearer that opting in for VAA enables human reviewers to listen to audio data. As such, users who currently have this setting enabled will be asked once again if they are comfortable with the described process before any human review occurs. Although audio snippets collected in this manner aren't associated with specific user accounts, Google is still adding some more privacy filters to remove any doubt of anonymity.

And finally, the tech giant is updating its policy on VAA audio data storage. Starting later this year, much less audio data will be stored, with automatic deletion of all data that is older than a few months. In a related change, Google is trying to further minimize unintentional activations of the Assistant, audio data collected from which is already deleted immediately.

All these changes are part of Google's push at remaining transparent with its consumers, though only time will tell how users react to them. You can learn more about the available privacy controls by visiting the 'Your data in the Assistant' page.

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