Voice assistants: the CNIL recalls that the voice is private data

More and more French people are using voice assistants, but this raises questions of confidentiality. The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties has just published a white paper on voice assistants which takes stock of the state of the art and attempts to define a framework for the future.

The Commission first recalls that voice is personal data and that its use must be done within the framework of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We all have a voice print, like a fingerprint, which is valuable biometric data. The Commission is wondering about the possible uses of this data in the future.

A potential target for hackers

Concerning the confidentiality of exchanges and fears of surveillance, the CNIL reminds that several actors can intervene in the services which are offered on the assistants. For example, if you consult your bank accounts, a bank application must connect with the assistant application. It is important that confidentiality is respected at all levels.

According to the CNIL, piracy is not a threat today but it could be tomorrow, if voice assistants become widespread, because they risk being of great interest to hackers.

Good practices

The CNIL does not advise against using a voice assistant but it indicates to manufacturers the best practices that should be implemented. In particular: offer more transparency on the workings of the system, better present the different layers of use of personal information and also favor local processing over remote processing.

Currently, the data is sent to servers for reasons of computing power. Increasingly, the power of microprocessors should make it possible to perform voice recognition within devices themselves (apart from the Internet connection necessary to access online services, NDR).

It remains to be seen whether, even with powerful processors, manufacturers will give up recovering data that constitutes for them a formidable breeding ground in order to carry out advertising targeting.

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