Facebook contractors said to have collected and transcribed users’ audio without permission – gpgmail


Reset the counter on “number of days since the last Facebook privacy scandal.”

Facebook has become the latest tech giant to face scrutiny over its handling of users’ audio, following a report that said the social media giant collected audio from its users and transcribed it using third-party contractors.

The report came from Bloomberg, citing the contractors who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

According to the report, it’s not known where the audio came from or why it was transcribed, but that Facebook users’ conversations were often matched against to see if they were properly interpreted by the company’s artificial intelligence.

There are several ways that Facebook collects voice and audio data, including from its mobile devices, its Messenger voice and video service, and through its smart speaker. But the social media giant’s privacy policy makes no clear mention of voice . Bloomberg also noted that contractors felt their work was “unethical” because Facebook “hasn’t disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio.”

Facebook has since stopped the practice.

We’ve asked Facebook several questions, including how the audio was collected, for what reason it was transcribed, and why users weren’t explicitly told of the third-party transcription, but did not immediately hear back.

Facebook becomes the latest tech company to face questions about its use of third-party contractors and staff to review user audio.

Amazon saw the initial round of flak for allowing contractors to manually review Alexa recordings without express user permission, forcing the company to add an opt-out to its Echo devices. Google also faced the heat for allowing human review of audio data, along with Apple which used contractors to listen to seemingly private Siri recordings. Microsoft also listened to some Skype calls made through the company’s app translation feature.

It’s been over a year since Facebook last had a chief security officer in the wake of Alex Stamos’ departure.

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Huawei and Google were reportedly building a (now suspended) smart speaker – gpgmail


I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot about sidelined Huawei projects in the coming weeks and months. Add this one to the list: The Chinese hardware giant was reportedly teaming with Google on a smart speaker before all hell broke loose with the Trump administration ban.

In fact, the device was supposed to make its debut at IFA in September, but, well, you know the rest of that story. The report comes courtesy of The Information, which, in turn, comes from a Huawei employee who understandably spoke under the condition of anonymity.

The story certainly checks out from a partnership perspective. The two have worked together in the past, and Google’s made a point of partnering with third-party hardware makers to get its smart assistant into more homes. Back in May, China overtook the U.S. in smart speaker market share. Fellow Chinese hardware maker Lenovo, meanwhile, has been a frequent partner, including the recently released Smart Clock display.

After years of accusations and hand-wringing, Huawei was added to the U.S. trade blacklist, putting the brakes on the company’s ability to do business with the likes of Google. That includes Android (though a temporary reprieve was put in place), along with likely a number of other unreleased/unannounced projects.

Huawei has reportedly been working on its own alternative to Android and the Google Play store, though at present, the ban could have a potentially devastating impact on its bottom line.

Neither Huawei nor Google have commented on the report.


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