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Google Assistant is No Help When it Comes to Protecting Personal Data

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Google Assistant is No Help When it Comes to Protecting Personal Data

Google’s AI-powered personal assistant has the potential to reshape the landscape of voice search with its machine learning capabilities. However, due to the very nature of AI and machine learning, using Google Assistant comes with a trade-off: your personal data.

Being built into Allo, along with recently announced Pixel phone and Google Home device, the more Google Assistant is called upon the more data it collects from its users.

Of course, this is all in an effort to deliver personal results and provide answers to more personal questions such as “when is my next appointment?”. It’s designed to learn about people’s habits and preferences in order to become smarter and more accurate.

As previously reported, all conversations on Allo are unencrypted. There is the option to turn encryption on, but then you will no longer be able to use Google Assistant within the app.

Over time Google Assistant will learn about where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you like to eat, what kind of music you listen to, how you communicate, who your best friends are, and so on. As Gizmodo points out, it’s even capable of accessing information from anything stored on your device.

While many are embracing the idea of a personalized virtual assistant, it’s important to point out the drawbacks as well. Development of this technology relies on relinquishing your security and privacy to Google.

What Google will do in the future with all this data is anyone’s guess, but part of the company’s business model is to make money through targeted advertising based on user data. In fact, Google has already stated in this help article that it will be doing as much:

”If you interact with the Google Assistant, we treat this similarly to searching on Google and may use these interactions to deliver more useful ads.

Google is certainly not the only company who has a responsibility to serve advertisers. For example, part of Apple’s business model is to serve advertisers through its iAd network.

A major difference is that the iAd network does not collect data from Siri, Apple’s own virtual assistant, nor does it collect data from iMessage, call history, Contacts or Mail. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has confirmed this in the company’s privacy policy:

”We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you.”

One of the most important questions people have to think about going forward is: how much privacy and personal data are you willing to give up in order to experience the benefits offered by AI-powered technologies?

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Matt Southern

Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in ... [Read full bio]

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