Ireland’s data protection regulator is considering probing the potential data breach in Google.
The tech giant alerted the Data Protection Commissioner that it could have been “inadvertently” recording conversations of its users. Graham Doyle, Head of Communications at the Irish Data Protection Commission, confirmed that they received Google’s breach notification.
In a blog post, Google said it is working with language experts for improving its Google Assistant. The tech giant admitted the team “reviewed and transcribed” a small set (0.2%) of the queries. The team gave these files to its employees for analysis.
The author, David Monsees, Product Manager for Search, said the move would help Google to understand those languages better. Monsees stressed that these snippets are not related to user accounts as part of the review process. He also explained that the recording is a crucial part of building speech technology like the Google Assistant.
However, Google found that one of the reviewers has leaked confidential Dutch audio data. In response, its Security and Privacy Response teams are currently investigating the unidentified person’s violation of data security policies. Moreover, the company is reviewing its safeguards in its speech technology to prevent future breaches.
Possible Heavy Fines
The Irish regulator is the primary privacy watchdog of Google and other tech companies. If it finds serious violations, it may impose hefty fines under the bloc’s new data protection rules.
Helen Dixon, Ireland’s commissioner for data protection, said that it is currently conducting 20 investigations into big tech companies. The firms, include Apple, Twitter, and Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp platforms, she said in an interview last month.
“Disaster Waiting to Happen”
Google is not the only one facing data protection issues. Earlier reports have also cited Amazon to have been listening to the recordings made by their Alexa users. Amazon responded by explaining and justifying the process, as well as stressing its importance to the development of AI.
Privacy advocates claimed Amazon’s practice was a data privacy “disaster waiting to happen.”
Google’s announcement of potential data breach comes after a recent report about some Americans’ distrust in Facebook and Google. The poll shows 76.7% of conservative America does not trust the tech companies to be unbiased and fair. The McLaughlin and Associate survey asked respondents questions to know their perception and opinions towards Big Tech companies.
Even the results of the overall trustworthiness perception of tech companies are not far from the results from conservative respondents. Nearly 63.4% of all respondents said that Facebook and Google could not be trusted for its fairness to users.