Google will save less voice data from Google Assistant going forward

Users to receive further privacy options as Assistant becomes more transparent

Google Assistant will keep less data
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Google is planning to overhaul its use of voice data from Google Assistant, according to reports.

The Mountain View giant is changing its policies to ensure that users can be confident they're not being unduly recorded, and that recordings are not being accessed by anyone.

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The move comprises a few different steps. For one, Google will make sure that users who have previously approved their participation in the Voice & Audio Activity program, which lets Google use their recordings, are given the chance to review that setting. They will be given a prompt by Google Assistant to confirm whether or not they want to continue sending snippets.

Moreover, Google is apparently also upgrading the filters it uses to automatically catch and delete recordings made erroneously. For example, if you were to tell someone to "draw an okay doodle" and the Assistant would wake incorrectly.

This should result in fewer voice clips that feature conversations you don't intend Google Assistant to hear. A setting is also coming to let you choose how sensitive Google Assistant is to its wake word, further personalising the service.

Finally, Google is also changing its handling of all voice data generated by the Voice & Audio Activity setting, so that it doesn't keep that data indefinitely. Instead, the "majority" of data which is older than three months will be deleted. That wording comes from a Google blog post, and it'll be interesting to find out exactly what proportion it counts as a majority.

The use and review of smart assistant voice clips has been under serious scrutiny this year, and it's no surprise to see Google joining in with the push toward transparency. This comes after Amazon changed its settings to let you decide whether employees can review your Alexa recordings, and Apple went a step further by confirming that it will no longer allow contractors to listen to Siri recordings without your permission coming first.

It's not clear exactly when these changes will come into effect for the Google Assistant. If you want to find out more about data security in the smart home, though, read our guide to how private your smart home really is.

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