Google is returning to people analyzing and evaluating anonymous audio clips from their users. However, the main step has been taken to automatically turn off each user outside of the setting that allows Google to store their audio. That’s why you may receive an email today: Google would like you to rejoin the program and is trying to provide clearer information detailing what it is all about.
These are very big moves that affect a huge number of people – although Google says that the exact number of users receiving the email is confidential. It should land in the inbox of anyone who has interacted with a product that uses Google̵
Here is a PDF file of the email that is sent to almost everyone who speaks into a microphone with the Google logo next to it, which reads in part:
To keep control of your audio recording settings, we’ve turned it off for you until you can review the updated information. Visit your Google Account to view and enable the audio setting if you choose.
It will link to this URL (which I list because you should never just click the URL to set up an account without double-checking it): https://myactivity.google.com/consent/assistant/vaa
It’s hard to remember now, but last summer one of the biggest stories in technology was how every big company used people to review the quality of their AI transcripts. When some of these audio recordings began to flow, it shook Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.
This meant that the summer of the technology scandal in 2019 was characterized by technical explanations of how machine learning works, apologies, outrage, feedback, and eventually each company finally began to make it easier for consumers to know what data is stored and how to delete them. I’ll put a bunch of stories in the sidebar just to give you a sense of how intense it was.
All of these companies have become significantly better at providing genuine disclosures about how audio data has been used and have made it easier to delete or opt out. Most of these large technology companies have also returned to using human reviewers to improve their services – with disclosures and / or asking users to agree again.
But Google Do not do it bring back human reviewers after ending the practice worldwide last September. When he did, he promised, “We will not include your audio in the human review process unless you reaffirm your [Voice & Audio Activity] The VAA setup is on: “Today, email is the promise that came true – albeit much later than any other.
When you click on the link in the email, you will be taken to a very short website that contains a YouTube video explaining Google’s policies. You’ll also be able to click on a link that provides more detailed details on how Google stores and uses audio.
If you have chosen to allow Google to store your audio, it will be used in two ways. There is a period in which it is associated with your account. Google uses this data to improve voice matching, and you can go there to view or delete any of this data. As of June 2020, the standard timeline for automatic data deletion is 18 months.
Your audio will then be cut and “anonymously”, at which point it can be sent with people to verify the accuracy of the transcription. And since it was controversial, I will add that some of these reviewers will be with third-party suppliers. Google only says anonymous data.
A strange warning to all this: although Google reverses the setting to keep audio recordings for everyone, it does not change the rules for audio that have already was uploaded. If you want this deleted, you can go and do it yourself. However, if you’re not worried, Google tells me that people won’t view audio that was uploaded during the break.
If you want to opt out or delete data from one of these large companies, here are some links to get started: