A federal judge has dismissed the majority of a class-action complaint against Google alleging that Google Assistant illegally collected and shared private information. The decision is only a partial win for the tech giant after it petitioned for the entire lawsuit to be tossed, but does narrow the path to victory for the plaintiffs.
Privacy Protection Problem
Google and other voice assistant developers have been making changes to their contractor programs and privacy settings at a rapid clip since the reports started emerging last summer. Google has been particularly keen to broadcast its updates as it tries to get people to trust its voice assistant. New features like voice commands for checking and deleting Google Assistant recordings are heavily promoted. Most recently, Google added a hotword sensitivity control to Google Assistant. The idea is to reduce accidental awakenings of the voice assistant, which can lead to the kind of recordings mentioned in the lawsuit. Since two-thirds of voice assistant users accidentally awaken a voice assistant at least once a month, it’s not a niche issue.
How much these changes will reduce suspicions and prevent future lawsuits is debatable. The final verdict of this case could shape voice assistant privacy rules and regulations in the years ahead, so Google’s rivals in the space are probably watching closely as they develop their own policies to protect user privacy.