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Belgian data authority likely to investigate Google Home

The Belgian data protection authority is likely to open an investigation into the way internet giant Google treats recordings that are made by Google Home.  The president of the watchdog, David Stevens, indicated that the authority would probably open an investigation after a Google staff member let VRT News listen in to recordings proving Google allows staff to listen in to private conversations made via Google Home and the smartphone app.

Mr David Stevens is calling on people who feel duped to file a complaint. If complaints materialise an investigation is certain.  Belgian minister for privacy Philippe De Backer has already asked the authority to look into the matter.

On Wednesday VRT News broke the story about how Google staff listen in to recordings made by the Google Home smart loudspeaker and the assistant-app on smartphones.  

“If people feel aggrieved or upset, they can file a complaint using our online forms” says Mr Stevens.

A large number of complaints will allow the authority to get a clearer picture of what people are worried about.

Ahead of an investigation Mr Stevens won’t say that Google has done anything wrong, but the VRT report threw up a number of issues with regard to principle. How long can data be kept? To which ends can it be used?

The watchdog president has understanding for the fact that Google makes recordings to train its algorithms, but it’s not the intention that people should be identifiable.  That is usually settled by confidentiality agreements.  Consequently, Mr Stevens can understand Google is unhappy the recordings ended up with the VRT.