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Google ceases language transcriptions for three months

Hamburg data protection authority launches administrative proceedings against Google

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Johannes Caspar, has launched administrative proceedings against Google as its language assistance system is suspected of violating users’ personal rights. Google’s employees or contracted companies intercept and transcribe acoustic recordings of users to determine whether the information has been correctly processed by the AI system. Google’s blog gives greater insight into this procedure. The recordings amount to an infringement of users’ personal rights, according to the commissioner and has prohibited the company from carrying out such evaluations for three months. Google has told the commissioner that transcriptions of voice recordings will cease for three months from August 1, 2019.

Compliance with data protection requirements

Caspar has criticised the lack of transparency and information about the disclosure of sensitive and personal information as the DSGVO law requires the informed consent of the users. “First of all, further questions about the functioning of the speech analysis system need to be clarified,” Caspar said. Data protection authorities will then decide on measures.

Google’s Germany headquarters in Hamburg

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information intervenes only in cases where there is an urgent need for action. In this case, the Hamburg-based data protector is responsible for Google Germany as the company is headquarted in Hamburg. However, the actual responsibility lies with the data protection authority of the Member State in which the head office of the responsible body is located – the IDPC in Ireland, according to DSGVO.

Sources and further information:

Melissa KnausAug. 7, 2019
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