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Tag Archives: audio

Does Google’s Duplex violate two-party consent laws?

Google’s Duplex , which calls businesses on your behalf and imitates a real human, ums and ahs included, has sparked a bit of controversy among privacy advocates. Doesn’t Google recording a person’s voice and sending it to a data center for analysis violate two-party consent law, which requires everyone in a conversation to agree to being recorded? The answer isn’t immediately clear, and Google’s silence isn’t helping. Let’s take California’s law as the example, since that’s the state where Google is based and where it used the system. Penal Code section 632 forbids recording any “confidential communication” (defined more or less as any non-public conversation) without the consent of all parties. (The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press has a good state-by-state guide to these laws.) Google has provided very little in the way of details about how Duplex actually works, so attempting to answer this question involves a certain amount of informed speculation. To begin with I’m going to consider all phone calls as “confidential” for the purposes of the law. What constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy is far from settled, and some will have it that you there isn’t such an expectation when making an appointment with a salon. But what about a doctor’s office, or if you need to give personal details over the phone? Though some edge cases may qualify as public, it’s simpler and safer (for us and for Google) to treat all phone conversations as confidential. What we know about Google’s Duplex demo so far As a second assumption, it seems clear that, like most Google services, Duplex’s work takes place in a data center somewhere, not locally on your device. So fundamentally there is a requirement in the system that the other party’s audio will be recorded and sent in some form to that data center for processing, at which point a response is formulated and spoken. On its face it sounds bad for Google. There’s no way the system is getting consent from whomever picks up the phone. That would spoil the whole interaction — “This call is being conducted by a Google system using speech recognition and synthesis; your voice will be analyzed at Google data centers

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What we know about Google’s Duplex demo so far

The highlight of Google’s I/O keynote earlier this month was the reveal of Duplex , a system that can make calls to set up a salon appointment or a restaurant reservation for you by calling those places, chatting with a human and getting the job done. That demo drew lots of laughs at the keynote, but after the dust settled, plenty of ethical questions popped up because of how Duplex tries to fake being human. Over the course of the last few days, those were joined by questions about whether the demo was staged or edited after Axios asked Google a few simple questions about the demo that Google refused to answer. We have reached out to Google with a number of very specific questions about this and have not heard back. As far as I can tell, the same is true for other outlets that have contacted the company. If you haven’t seen the demo, take a look at this  before you read on. So did Google fudge this demo? Here is why people are asking and what we know so far: During his keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted multiple times that we were listening to real calls and real conversations (“What you will hear is the Google Assistant actually calling a real salon.”). The company made the same claims in a blog post  (“While sounding natural, these and other examples are conversations between a fully automatic computer system and real businesses.”). Google has so far declined to disclose the name of the businesses it worked with and whether it had permission to record those calls. California is a two-consent state , so our understanding is that permission to record these calls would have been necessary (unless those calls were made to businesses in a state with different laws). So on top of the ethics questions, there are also a few legal questions here. We have some clues, though. In the blog post, Google Duplex lead Yaniv Leviathan and engineering manager Matan Kalman posted a picture of themselves eating a meal “booked through a call from Duplex.” Thanks to the wonder of crowdsourcing and a number of intrepid sleuths , we know that this restaurant was Hongs Gourmet in Saratoga, California. We called Hongs Gourmet last night, but the person who answered the phone referred us to her manager, who she told us had left for the day

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Jabra Elite 65t review: Put down your AirPods

Whether you like it or not, true wireless earbuds are having a moment. They actually have for a while now, and Apple's introduction of AirPods only added fuel to the fire. Most of the big names in audio have introduced models, following the path Brag...

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