Breach of user privacy: Some employees listen to customer conversations, Google tells IT parliamentary panel

The Google representatives, during the deposition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, admitted that the tech giant's employees listen to private recordings of customers' conversations via Google Assistant.

According to a report by India Today, during the deposition before the panel on the need to safeguard citizens' rights, the tech giant's officials said the employees listen when users, who have Google Assistant on their phones and smart speakers, say "OK, Google" to start a conversation with the assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

As per the report, the panel members have considered this as a serious violation of user privacy. And the final report of the Parliamentary panel would be making recommendations to the government on it.

Google representatives on Facebook and Google representatives Tuesday deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology over the issue of social media misuse and safeguarding citizens' rights. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has asked Facebook and Google to comply with the new IT rules, government instructions and court orders.

The panel, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, had asked them to appear in-person at the parliament secretariat here.

While Facebook's country public policy director Shivnath Thukral and general counsel Namrata Singh appeared before the panel on behalf of the company, search engine Google was represented by its country head (government affairs and public policy) Aman Jain and director (legal) Gitanjali Duggal. The agenda of the parliamentary panel meeting was to safeguard citizens' rights and prevent the misuse of social/online news media platforms.

Later, Google said in a statement that it has consistently invested in product changes, resources and personnel as part of its efforts to keep users safe in compliance with the local laws in India.

"We always welcome opportunities to engage in dialogue with the policy makers and share details of our efforts in combating illegal content and ensuring the safety of users across our platforms," a Google spokesperson said.

The spokesperson further stated: "We have consistently invested in significant product changes, resources and personnel, and have made significant progress in balancing the openness of our platforms with the responsibility of keeping the community safe in compliance with the local laws in the country."

(With inputs from PTI)

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