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Apple, Google suspend human listening to digital assistant recordings, Amazon gives way to opt out

Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, or Google who have smart digital assistant services to offer suffered a major embarrassment after their practice to let humans hear human conversations came to light. And the immediate fallout of the digital eavesdropping practice – if it can be so-called – is a complete ban on such practices as of now.

Apple has announced it is imposing a blanket ban applicable worldwide on its grading system wherein humans were allowed to listen to some Siri conversations. They said the ban will remain in place until they have done a thorough overview of the entire grading process.

Google though is slightly less transparent on the issue given that it announced a ban on eavesdropping on its Assistant but only in some regions such as the Netherland and the European Union. The EU ban came into effect specifically after German regulators asked the Mountain View company to do so.

Google, however, said it’s just about 0.2 per cent of all voice clipping that is allowed access to real humans.

The company also argued they are already in the process of reviewing their standard practice of letting humans access to Assistant recording after Dutch data leak scandal where even sensitive info spoken to the Assistant, or otherwise got leaked online.

Amazon though is yet to respond officially to the data leak issue even though its Alexa powered smart speakers happen to be the most used in the US.

However, all companies justified their move to let humans listen to digital conversations as it allowed them to improve their services further. Also, a standard precautionary measure adopted is to dissociate the sound clippings with the user accounts even though the content is often found to have enough info to identify the user in the real world.

Meanwhile, for Alexa users who’d like to stop the assistant from listening to their conversations, they need to start by launching the Alexa app for either iOS or Android followed by clicking on Menu > Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa. Thereafter, users will just have to toggle off ‘Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features’.

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Users can also accomplish the same online by visiting the site – amazon.com/alexaprivacysettings. In the page that loads, users will have to click on ‘Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa’ and turn the toggle switch to ‘off’ for the ‘Help Improve Amazon Services and Develop New Features’ setting.