Google Home speakers to let people listen to you again (but you have to opt in)

Rob Waugh
But who's listening in? (Getty)

In the wake of controversy over human ‘reviewers’ listening to the audio from smart speakers, Google paused its policy of allowing people to listen to recordings from Home devices.

But it’s now been announced that people will start listening to the recordings again - but only if users opt in.

The company unveiled further safeguards for audio recorded by the speakers.

In a blog post, Google said: ‘To store your audio data, you can opt in to the Voice & Audio Activity (VAA) setting when you set up your Assistant.’


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The tech giant added: ‘We’re updating our settings to highlight that when you turn on VAA, human reviewers may listen to your audio snippets to help improve speech technology.

‘We take a number of 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 percent of all user audio snippets), only from users with VAA turned on.’

Amazon and Google confirmed earlier this year they use small samples of user recordings with their own voice assistants to train and develop its language recognition software.

The two firms each have a virtual assistant present in smart speakers and some smartphones, and both confirmed they use human auditors to analyse a small section of recordings from users.

Apple also admitted that a small proportion of requests sent to Siri via the internet are actually listened to by human beings.

Apple said only a random subset - less than 1% of daily Siri activations - were part of the grading scheme, and each of these was just a few seconds long.