A few Slimjet users has expressed concerns over the privacy issue when the voice search based on hot word detection is enabled in Chrome. They would like to know if such issue applies to Slimjet as well. We will explain what is going on with the voice search feature, what we think of it and how it affects Slimjet.
When the voice search feature is enabled in Chrome, it lets user activate voice search by speaking the hot word “Ok, Google”. The voice search is only enabled in the New Tab page and when you are visiting google.com website. To achieve this goal, the browser would have to constantly monitor what the user is saying in order to detect the hot word. Because Google’s voice recognition engine is cloud-based, that means whatever you say will be transmitted to Google’s server for analysis even if you are not really using the voice search feature. That does get a little creepy in my opinion. Users might not even be aware of the fact their entire speech is constantly being transferred to Google’s server when they have a new tab page or Google.com page open in their Chrome browser. We can’t be 100% sure what Google does exactly about those speech data, or if the government will want to tap those data to monitor the general public in some day.
If you are using the Nexus 5 phone, the hot word detection is enabled by default. But it clearly makes more sense in a mobile phone where voice search is much more convenient than clicking on the tiny keyword with your index finger. And it is only enabled when the home screen is visible. Therefore, its impact is much more limited. On a desktop computer, voice-search is not really a better way to input the keywords compared with your regular keyboard, considering the fact that voice recognition is still far from perfect nowadays. We believe it makes more sense to leave voice search as a manually activated feature with a mouse click.
In Slimjet, there is currently no support of hot word detection. You can only activate voice search in the New Tab page by clicking on the blue microphone icon at the right end of the search box as shown below,
Therefore, in Slimjet, your speech won’t be transferred to Google’s voice recognition server unless you have manually activated voice search.
If you have any more concerns, please feel free to comment. The Slimjet team here is always committed to maximizing the privacy protection for our users.