Google may have to face further investigations by the Irish Data Protection Commission after reports of contractors being able to hear users’ audio footage submitted to the tech firm’s digital assistant.

The prospective measures follow a data breach notification sent to the Irish data watchdog last week, agency spokesperson Graham Doyle said.

Google subsequently issued a response through a blog post in reaction to news published by a Belgian broadcaster about contractors eavesdropping on conversations between individuals within earshot of Google Assistant.

sAs Google’s chief privacy data regulator for Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) could impose a significant financial penalty on the famous search engine if investigations discover that GDPR standards have been violated.

In June, Ireland’s data commissioner, Helen Dixon described how the Irish regulator has around 20 separate investigations open to look into the data privacy practices of tech giants such as Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Google, along with Facebook subsidiaries, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Last week, Google explained how it is developing its digital home assistant by working with language experts who “review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages.” The company described how the measures were “a critical part of the process of building speech technology…necessary to creating products like Assistant.”

In a blogpost the company said:

“We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. Our security and privacy response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again.”

The news of the Irish DPC’s prospective investigation comes two months after Google revealed upgraded privacy and data protection features at the firm’s annual developer conference.

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