Human workers can listen to Google Assistant recordings

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FILE – In this June 14, 2018, photo, an Amazon Echo, center, and a Google Home, right, are displayed in New York. Google contractors are listening to some recordings of people talking to Assistant, either on their phone or through smart speakers such as the Google Home. The company says some of its Dutch language recordings were leaked and that it is investigating. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Google said its contractors are able to listen to recordings of what people say to its artificial-intelligence system Google Assistant.

The company acknowledged that humans can access those recordings after some of its Dutch language recordings were leaked. Google is investigating the breach.

The recordings were obtained by Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, which noted in a story that they sometimes contain sensitive personal information.

Google says contractors listen to recordings to better understand language patterns and accents. Its user terms confirm recordings may be used by the company. This feature can be turned off, but doing so means Assistant loses much of its personalized touch.

A Bloomberg report earlier this year also revealed Amazon’s Alexa voice technology uses contractors to review recordings, which Amazon later confirmed.

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