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Google Assistant accused of ‘Data breach’

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The tech giant Google Inc. acknowledges its employees hearing the user’s queries after asking for assistance saying ‘Ok Google. The impulsive news comes in as it upholds its employees hearing and recording the queries even when the virtual assistant is not asked for.

The revelation comes in light as the Parliamentary Standing Committee led by Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor questioned the tech giant on the breach of privacy of its users. The company went on clarifying that the data is not deleted by the company until and unless the user itself deletes it. In its interpretation, the big giant came forward to state they move to be only used for the betterment of quality in the multilingual assistance to users.

 It further claims that the employees only hear the general information and not the sensitive ones, however, the company did not shed light on what basis it distinguishes between the general information and sensitive ones and records the same.

 “We take several precautions to protect data during the human review process-audio snippets are never associated with any user accounts and language experts only listen to a small set of queries (around 0.2% of all user audio snippets), only from users with VAA turned on”, Google asserted.

 The panel however told the tech giants including Google to safeguard the fundamental right of ‘Right to Privacy’ and fix all the loopholes that they have.

 Some members represented Facebook and Google in the counter of the parliamentary standing committee and one of the arguments, one of the panel members representing Facebook said, “In its terms and conditions, Google states clearly that the audio recordings between users and their google smart speakers and google assistant devices are recorded and stored. But the terms do not mention that its employees can listen to excerpts from these recordings. Also, Google, in its privacy policy, says that it will share personal information outside of Google when it has users’ consent.”

 This issue was raised by Jharkhand’s BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in the Parliamentary committee meeting. The committee has indicted the doing as a ‘breach of privacy of users’.

 The final report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee will be soon presented before the Central government to take action against the data breach. Social media intermediaries were strictly instructed for the data protection of their users and to clear the glitches if any. They were further asked to comply with the ‘Right to Privacy’; a Fundamental right given to each individual inside the boundary.

“The government is looking into the issue of companies like Google not deleting the stored data as a rule and keeping the transcripts until a user manually deletes the information”, stated a senior official from MEITY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology). The social media intermediaries were eventually asked to comply with the Indian IT rules if they wanted to continue the market inside the boundaries.

 In 2019, a blog from Google read its Product Manager David Monsees giving the nod to the fact that the lingual experts hear the queries made and the recordings done to enhance Google’s speech service.

 It is to be noted that the same issue was raised by the American Parliamentarians to Google and cases have been filed for the same in various areas. However, the case heard the federal judge telling Google to face a lawsuit for illegally recording and putting on air the private conversations of the users.

 ‘Right to Privacy’ is a right inclined to each individual of the nation, and the tech giants like Google should be responsible enough to shield its million users’ data to enhance the credibility of its own.

[author title=”Shreya Gohel” image=”http://localhost/gc2/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/20210127_014031.jpg”]Journalist, Goa Chronicle

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