Belgium considers investigation into leaked Google Home recordings

Belgium considers investigation into leaked Google Home recordings
Google anticipates setting up on the Écopôle site to the north-east of Charleroi.

Belgium's Data Protection Authority will "probably" launch an investigation into Google after leaked recordings showed that the tech company keeps conversations of users of its smart home appliances, authority chairman David Stevens said Thursday.

"It is very clear to me that this is about personal data, the Data Protection Authority is competent and we might have to investigate because one or more complaints will follow," Stevens said on Radio 1.

On Wednesday, a Google subcontractor leaked thousands of audio fragments recorded and stored by the company's smart speakers and assistants, some of which the company recorded without the users knowing.

Stevens' statements come after Outgoing Privacy Minister Philippe De Backer called for an investigation to be opened by the privacy watchdog.

Speaking on the radio program, Stevens further called on users unhappy after the revelations to file a complaint which could lead to the opening of an investigation, according to VTR News.

"We can conduct an investigation on our own initiative or after a complaint, but not after receiving an instruction from a minister," Stevens said, referring to the watchdog's independent status, adding: "But we have understood the message and we will have to look at this matter."

Stevens said that authorities "understand" that Google uses the recordings to train and improve its algorithms, and the investigation would seek to shed a light into questions into how the recordings are stored or managed, and the other purposes for which they are used.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.