The Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Hamburg (HmbBfDI), in Germany, has ordered Google to stop making audio transcripts of its Assistant and Home for three months. It was discovered that it collected personal information about conversations I recorded to evaluate the quality of service.
According to a statement issued by the HmbBfDI, the German authority has initiated an administrative process to prohibit Google from continuing to evaluate its Assistant and its Home speakers, listening to and transcribing the conversations of its users, over a period of three months. he objective is “provisionally to protect the privacy rights of user data,” they say.
Given this, Google has confirmed to the German institution that “it will not carry out at present and for at least three months since August 1, 2019” the transcriptions of voice recordings in the European Union, as stated in the communiqué of the Commission.
Google already unveiled last month that, to evaluate the quality of the service it offered with its Assistant and its Home speakers, it carried out audio recordings that were heard and transcribed by the company’s employees and third-party companies related to Google, to analyze If the registered information had been correctly processed by your artificial intelligence system.
Privacy and security of users informations
However, as sources from that team of reviewers denounced to the Belgian media «VRT News», employees could collect personal information from users, some of them sensitive.
To carry out this prohibition, the German Commissioner relies on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union. It allows data protection authorities to take action in urgent situations that threaten the protection of data protection of its users to protect their rights and freedoms for a period not exceeding three months.
Johannes Caspar, curator of the HmbBfDI, states that “the use of speech assistance systems must be transparent. That informed consent can be obtained by users”, which includes information on the processing of voice commands and frequency and risks of activation by mistake of these assistants.
Caspar also notes that “the data protection authorities will then have to decide the final measures that are necessary for the data protection-compliance operation“.
The German authority also urges companies responsible for other voice assistant systems such as Apple or Amazon to “review the implementation of appropriate measures” in this regard.