It’s a chilling discovery that Google users should be aware of. Google is secretly recording millions of its users’ conversations every day and storing the creepy audio files without the users’ knowledge and consent.
The technology giant has turned its users’ smartphones into listening devices that can capture even the most intimate conversations. Such invasion could be attributed to Google’s Assistant, an app similar to Apple’s Siri. Google made a previous announcement that the Google Assistant only turns on and starts recording after users’ mutter the key words “Ok Google.”
A media investigation, however, reveals that it’s not exactly accurate. In some cases, just the word “Ok” in conversation prompted Google to switch on phones and record around 20 seconds of audio each time. It regularly puts on the microphones as users go about their regular activities.
After recording the conversations without users’ knowledge and consent, Google uploads the audio files to its computer servers- often known as “the cloud.”
The chilling fact is the files are accessible from just about anywhere in the world so long as there’s internet connection. Basically, it translates to any device that is signed into personal Gmail or Google account and can access the library of even the users’ deepest, darkest secrets.
The recordings last about 10-20 seconds on average, and a text version of the conversation is saved. Google says on its terms and conditions that it keeps these recordings for “improving speech recognition against all Google products that use your voice.”
A Google spokesman gave a reaction to Sun Online which made the discovery. He said: “We only process voice searches after the phone believes the hot word ‘Ok Google’ is detected. Audio snippets are used by Google to improve the quality of speech recognition across Search.”
The Silicon Valley giant also recently launched a smart assistant, Google Home.
Mundane voice recordings from its users will help Google’s artificial intelligence that runs Google Home, by showing and teaching it how humans communicate naturally. It’s being used as “a free language class” for its software.
Some helpful tips provided by The Sun on finding out exactly what Google knows about a user:
1.Sign into Google or Gmail account
2.Type “history.google.com/history” into your web browser
3.A user will be taken into a hub containing one’s entire digital footprint which includes maps searches and YouTube videos
4.Click on “Activity Controls” on the left-hand side of the page
5.Under “Web and App activity”, click “Manage Activity”
6.If Google’s keeping tabs on users, there should be a stream of web pages and map searches that show up in chronological order. Users may opt to randomly delete searches, or select all the searches to make them disappear.
On listening back to the audio Google has recorded from user’s phone:
1.Sign into Gmail or Google account
2.Type “history.google.com/history into web browser
3.Then Google will take user to a hub containing users’ entire digital footprint which could make for some creepy reading.