Here’s what Google’s complicated privacy email about audio is really about
Google is returning to having humans analyze and rate anonymized audio snippets from its users. However, it’s also taken the major step of automatically opting every single user out of the setting that allows Google to store their audio. That’s why you might be getting an email today: Google would like you to opt back in to the program, and it’s trying to provide clearer information detailing what it’s all about.
Those are very big moves that affect a huge number of people — though Google says the precise number of users getting the email is confidential. It should land in the inbox of anybody who has interacted with a product that uses Google’s voice AI, including apps like Google Maps and services like Google Assistant.
Here’s a PDF of the email that is being sent to virtually everybody who’s spoken into a microphone with a Google logo next to it, which reads in part:
It will link to this URL (which I’m listing out because you should never just click a URL to an account setting without double-checking it): https://myactivity.google.com/consent/assistant/vaa
It is difficult to remember now, but last summer, one of the biggest stories in tech was how every major company was using humans to review the quality of their AI transcriptions. When some of those audio recordings began to leak, it rocked Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook.
That meant tech’s 2019 summer of scandal was characterized by technical ...
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