TINY ONLINE STARTUP Google has announced that, following a policy review, it will never allow human operators to listen to your conversations with Google Assistant.
Except with your permission, of course.
That's the spin on it anyway. The other way would be that Google has announced it is to start requesting permission for its users to opt-in to have conversations assessed by humans.
Now the dust has started to settle on "eavesdropgate" and we've all got used to the not-entirely-surprising revelation that people have been listening in to what we've been saying to Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Siri (nobody can be bothered to listen to Samsung Bixby, even Samsung) we're getting a much clearer idea what the policy is likely to be going forward.
Google's announcement comes hot on the heels of Apple's confirmation that it was going opt-in only last month. Amazon and Facebook require you to manually opt-out. Microsoft and Samsung require you to just wish you had a better voice assistant.
Google, like its rivals, has said that the only purpose of human operatives in this context is to refine voice training within its artificial intelligence models. That said, it doesn't really excuse the fact that the vast majority of users didn't realise that this was the case.
After the story broke in July, several companies suspended the policy for a rethink. And this week, Google confirmed that it would be starting again with a new policy, which will let users choose how sensitive their devices are to the 'wake words' that trigger it to start listening, though that could make the more likely to ignore you - so swings and roundabouts.
Google says it will continue to use third-party contractors for this role and apologised for what it called falling "short of our high standards" for transparency.
Apple has gone one stage further and said it will only let Apple employees listening in to that thing you do to your other half on alternate Thursdays.
Oh yes. They know. They all know. µ
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