Google will again have human workers listen to users' voice recordings — but only for some people

Business Insider US

  • Google is restarting its practice of having human workers listen to voice recordings from its users in order to evaluate how well its products transcribed the audio.
  • But this time, Google says it will only collect audio snippets for human review from users who opt in.
  • The company shut down its practice of letting human reviewers listen to audio snippets last September following backlash over how it gathered and stored the audio.
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Google is bringing back a controversial practice of having human employees listen to audio snippets from users - but this time, it will only gather audio from users who opt in.

The company sent an email Wednesday to users who have used Google's voice products including Google Maps and Google Assistant, The Verge first reported. All users have been automatically opted out of letting Google store their audio, the email says, and Google provides a link that lets users manually opt in to audio sharing.

Until last year, Google had human employees including third-party contractors listen to audio recordings of users to evaluate how well its AI transcribed audio. Google paused the practice last September amid widespread backlash after reports first surfaced about the practice.

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft faced similar criticism last year for letting humans listen to audio clips from their users.

Google's email to users this week states that, for people who opt in, audio snippets will be associated with their account for 18 months, after which it will be anonymized and could be sent to human employees for review.

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