Google Executive: You Should Warn Guests About Smart Speakers in Your Home

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Google devices chief Rick Osterloh admitted during a recent interview that he would disclose to guests entering his home that smart speakers are present, showing that the Masters of the Universe recognize just how invasive their technology actually is.

BBC News reports that during a recent interview, Google’s devices chief Rick Osterloh was asked if homeowners should warn guests that smart devices such as Google Home or Amazon Echo were in use. The Google executive seemed surprised by the question but eventually agreed that they should indeed be informed.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Osterloh states. “It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

Osterloh finally decides: “Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

Osterloh pointed out that some Google devices do attempt to make users aware when they’re recording, such as the Nest cameras which shine an LED light when they’re in record mode. Osterloh was also questioned about Google’s other data collection techniques, specifically the recent reports that Google contractors targeted individuals with darker skin tones to perform facial recognition tests on.

From the BBC News interview:

There’s been controversy over facial-recognition tests carried out on the phone’s behalf. To make sure it worked better with dark skin tones, there’s been reports a contractor targeted homeless people offering them $5 (£4) but didn’t properly explain what was going on. Can you address that?

It was very important for us to make sure the face unlock system works for all different kinds of people, genders, races, et cetera.

And as a consequence, we wanted to make sure we were able to get a large number of data points that allowed us to perfect this model in a fair way. So, we went out and did a lot of research in this area.

It’s come to our attention there may be some methods that were not approved, not how we would do business. So, we’re investigating that. We would never find that acceptable. And so we’ve suspended any data collection until this is straightened out.

Just to be clear about what you think is unacceptable. Was it the targeting of homeless people? Was it not explaining exactly what people were testing? Or what?

All of those allegations would be different than what we would find acceptable.

But do you still plan to retain the data collected in this way for 18 months?

I don’t know that we’ve discussed the length of time that we’re holding data. But there have been no changes to the programme with respect to data retention.

Read the full interview by BBC News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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