Alexa, Google Home now battling perception of being ‘surveillance’ devices

Alexa, Google Home now battling perception of being ‘surveillance’ devices

Google acknowledged an earlier report from Belgian broadcaster VRT News about third-party subcontractors being able to access recordings of Google Home device owners. According to the report, the audio clips reviewed included enough information to reportedly determine the home addresses of several of the involved individuals.

Clips used by speech and language experts. Google says it sends clips to third-party language experts to ensure that Google is understanding local speech and accents. The company explained this process in a blog post today, saying “We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”

Google goes on to discuss how it safeguards user privacy and how only a small percentage of audio clips go to third parties for review. With this incident, however, Google adds to the perception that smart speaker devices are “listening” to their owners. This has been a problem for Alexa, which has received lots of negative coverage for its alleged eavesdropping on owners.

Privacy concerns a growing problem. A recent survey from NPR suggests that some consumers are now hesitating to buy smart speakers for privacy reasons.

Compared with a similar 2017 survey, more consumers are now more concerned about privacy and security. The top reasons for not owning a smart speaker were: hacking, concerns about smart speakers “always listening” and worry about “government eavesdropping.” This latter issue (government surveillance) is exacerbated is by recent revelations that immigration authorities are mining DMV databases with facial recognition technology without Americans’ knowledge.

Current smart speaker owners also expressed similar privacy fears as non-owners, according to the NPR survey.

Why we should care. In roughly 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about new social norms around information sharing in which people allegedly were less concerned about privacy. He didn’t quite say “privacy is dead,” which is often how his statements are characterized. But he did seem to suggest that privacy norms were now quite different. In the past year, Facebook has done a massive pivot toward privacy, as consumers have demanded more control over their information and Facebook has received mounting criticism over data security and privacy.

Unfortunately, Google, Amazon and Facebook haven’t gone far enough to instill confidence and genuinely give users control over their data, though they would undoubtedly dispute this statement. Behind the scenes, some large tech companies have been trying to weaken California’s forthcoming CCPA rules.

Smart speakers and displays are an important piece of new consumer technology – and have the potential to be an effective platform for marketers. But this nascent channel is increasingly at risk unless Google, Amazon, Facebook and, to a lesser degree, Apple can do more to boost privacy and consumer confidence.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Video: Lily Ray on recovering after a Google core update

Video: Lily Ray on recovering after a Google core update

I spoke with Lily Ray of Path Interactive at its NYC office on the topic of Google core algorithm updates. I asked Lily, a Search Engine Land author and SMX speaker, how her team approaches the task of helping its new customers who were negatively impacted by a core update improve their rankings. As you know, Google said there are no fixes for core algorithm updates but as you also know, you cannot tell your clients – sorry, we can’t fix it.

In this video interview we discussed how sites need to build trust through their staff and authors. We also discussed the challenges she faces when convincing her clients that their internal staff need to take a more active role in the web site content. The conversation went into the issues with Google being more or less transparent around these algorithm updates.

I started this vlog series recently, and if you want to sign up to be interviewed, you can fill out this form on Search Engine Roundtable. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

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