Google doesn’t have a good reputation for protecting user privacy so, while disturbing, it should come as no surprise that a free service from Mountain View abuses what little you have left.
It was discovered on Wednesday that every time you speak to your smartphone, saying “OK Google…” or tapped the microphone to dictate a text message, Google has been keeping logs of your every word.
In the classic ‘no, its not bad its a great feature’ style of Google, you can play back your own recordings, as if this somehow makes it all better.
The news can after Google launched its “My Account” feature, a Facebook-style ‘tool’ to make privacy more confusing and difficult.
While its long been known that Google remembers every text search you perform on its site, we’ve now learned that it also stores a recording of your actual voice.
While the purpose, at least right now, is ostensibly to help it better recognize your voice, it remains to be seen what Google will do with these recordings. It could easily sell them on to advertisers, who could then make a voice-print of you and do all sorts of creepy ad serving with the information.
The collection of recordings appear in a section of your Google account called “Voice and Audio Activity.”
It is not clear how long Google keeps the recordings or if other copies exist somewhere else at Google, but users can manually delete the recordings if they prefer.
The fact remains, however, that most people will not delete them and won’t truly know they exist, thanks to being buried in a control panel with lots of other toggles and settings. This approach to confusing users about privacy was first used by Facebook, who can now claim they offer users the choice of privacy, one tiny little setting a time.
For users, the net effect when presented with a confusing set of toggles, of which they don’t know much about, is to leave things as the big internet companies want them.