What is G-Cloud? G-Cloud is a procurement framework in which government organisations can search for various services from a list of approved vendors. They can then compare each organisation’s offerings, evaluating which ones are best suited for their needs. G-Cloud is now in its 10th iteration and is designed to guide those responsible for digital […]
What is G-Cloud?
G-Cloud is a procurement framework in which government organisations can search for various services from a list of approved vendors. They can then compare each organisation’s offerings, evaluating which ones are best suited for their needs.
G-Cloud is now in its 10th iteration and is designed to guide those responsible for digital projects in the public sector through the complex process of sourcing and purchasing technology quickly and easily.
What are the benefits?
– Access to the right technology and innovation – all suppliers listed have undergone a thorough application process
– The ability to save time and money – it is fast and easy to use, and buyers don’t need to carry out lengthy procurements
– Collaboration and shared services – it’s an open and transparent way to buy products and capability collectively in line with the recent Local Government Digital Service Standard. This standard sets out a common approach to deliver good quality, user-centred, value for money digital services
– One place to go to buy what you need with access to over 3,300 suppliers across the UK
– The opportunity to grow the local workforce – buying from suppliers on the Digital Marketplace can create new jobs and boost the local economy. Some suppliers have successfully increased their workforce as a direct result of the sales they have made through G-Cloud.
What Can Intelligent Voice do for you?
– Fastest, most secure Automatic Speech Recognition commercially available
– Biometric non-enrolled Speaker Identification
– Proprietary Topic extraction
– Credibility Analysis calibrated by use case
– Live Call management
– Auto-Redaction (e.g. PCI)
– MiFID II & GDPR compliance
– Media Monitoring
– Archive retrieval
– Legal eDiscovery and Forensics
You can find out more about what Intelligent Voice offer through G-Cloud by visiting the Gov.UK Digital Marketplace here.
Intelligent Digital Assistants (IDAs) or voice-activated smart devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home have become an essential part of today’s smart life. We use them in our homes (e.g. online searches, querying about weather, directions, etc) as well as in our offices (e.g. recording meetings) to make our life smarter. It’s a Matter […]
Intelligent Digital Assistants (IDAs) or voice-activated smart devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home have become an essential part of today’s smart life. We use them in our homes (e.g. online searches, querying about weather, directions, etc) as well as in our offices (e.g. recording meetings) to make our life smarter.
It’s a Matter of Convenience
Indeed, voice technology is sweeping our world and transforming our lives. IDAs and voice-activated televisions (smart TVs) will soon be commonly used in our daily lives. Recent forecasts show that 50% of all searches on the internet will be voice searches by 2020  and there will probably be more digital assistants than humans by 2021 . The research done by J. Walter Thompson and Mindshare  shows that efficiency is the main reason for using voice. It shows that the user’s brain activity is lower when voice is used, as compared to when touch or typing are used, which indicates that voice data is more intuitive than any other means of communication. Current common tasks for regular voice users (i.e. those who use voice services at least once a week) are “online searches, finding information about a specific product, asking for directions, asking questions, finding information about a specific brand or company, playing music, checking travel information, setting alarms, checking news headlines and home management tasks” .
The Right to Privacy.
Privacy issues in technology were first raised as far back as 1890 by two legal scholars in possibly the most influential privacy article, “The Right To Privacy”, where they examined whether existing laws at the time protected the individual’s privacy . They wrote the article mainly in response to the rise of the ”snapshot” and its subsequent use in taking photos of people secretly or without their consent. They wrote “Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life,”. “The Right To Privacy” article is considered as the main foundation of American privacy laws  and since its publication, privacy laws have been passed in some US states to protect individuals. Today, after more than 130 years, drones embedded with cameras, allow anyone to spy from above and new privacy laws are being passed in the US to limit and govern their use .
Today’s technology is affecting the privacy of individuals on a daily basis, through the use of smartphones and social media: photos captured by smartphones are shared in social media websites making them susceptible to breach by hackers. In addition to these privacy concerns about photos shared in the cloud, the rising use of cloud-based voice recognition systems such as IDAs and smart TVs has added another layer of privacy issues, sneaking up on people right inside their homes.
For many, there is a belief that there is a “magic pipe” that exists between their Alexa-type device, and the ultimate provider of information, very much like typing text into a browser, and getting a webpage direct from, say, a weather website.
The main privacy problem with voice is that the voice data is processed online at the cloud which enables the cloud to record and store voice data. This makes data vulnerable to breaches from external hackers as well as from the cloud server itself. In fact the cloud provider acts as the conduit of all information to and from the consumer, which could include sensitive financial and health information. The SSL “padlock” that we see against many websites, protecting data-in-transit, has no equivalent in the voice activated world.
What Risks can Voice Really Present?
Voice adds an extra layer of potential privacy intrusion over Plain Old Text communications. The recent progress in voice forensics driven by modern advancements in AI speech processing systems by researchers from institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University can profile speakers from their voice data: they can estimate the speaker’s bio-relevant parameters (e.g. height, weight, age, physical and mental health) as well as their environmental parameters (e.g. location of the speaker and the surrounding objects). These research findings have been recently applied to help the US Coast Guard to identify hoax callers . This shows the amount of information that can be leaked about speakers when their recordings are breached by hackers, or even where they are used for data mining by cloud voice providers.
So, online speech recognition leads to privacy issues not only because the cloud server will know the speaker’s transcribed text but also because voice data reveals the speaker’s emotions (e.g. joy, sorrow, anger, surprise, etc) and the speaker’s biological features. Voice data contains biometric data that might be used to identify the speaker. In fact, applications for speaker verification (used for authentication purposes) and speaker identification (used to identify a speaker from a set of individuals) are currently being deployed or are already in use in banking and other sectors.
In , it has been reported that recent patents by Amazon and Google about use cases of their digital assistants, Echo and Home respectively, reveal privacy problems that could affect smart home owners. In particular, “a troubling patent”, as noted in , describes the use of security cameras embedded in smart devices (e.g IPA, see Fig. 1) to send video shots to identify a user’s “gender, age, fashion-taste, style, mood, known languages, preferred activities, and so forth.” .
Fig. 1. Consent vs Amazon’s Echo Look and Google Home Mini
Recently, there has been rise in concern about privacy among the users’ of Amazon Echo and Google Home as shown in a recent paper  analysing online user reviews. Apparently Amazon’s Echo got bad reviews mostly concerned about privacy after being used as a testimony in a US court to judge a murder case in Arkansas . The paper shows also that Google Home reviews were not affected by the news warning that they are always listening without being activated . Of course, these devices need to be listening in order to detect their activation keywords (e.g. “Alexa” or “OK Google”) but they should not be recording anything before they spot their activation keywords.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) vs Voice Data.
The EU GDPR , enforced on May 25th, defines Biometric data as follows “personal data resulting from specific technical processing relating to the physical, physiological or behavioral characteristics of a natural person, which allows or confirms the unique identification of that natural person, such as facial images or dactyloscopic data”. So GDPR categorises biometric data as sensitive personal data. Personal sensitive data needs to be protected and its processing can be done with consent or in certain cases where it is necessary. In particular, speakers’ voice data is related to their physical, physiological and behavioral characteristics as mentioned above.
Therefore, voice data as well as all other forms of data need to be protected when outsourced to the cloud, and any subsequent processing should be done with consent. Otherwise, if data is breached by hackers, un-protected breached data can be exploited with severe consequences of the type mentioned above.
Achieving Privacy in Voice-activated Applications.
Fortunately, there are some solutions that allow us to enjoy the use of IDAs whilst at the same time achieve some measure of privacy. One possible solution is an on-device speech recognition system combined with searchable encryption [3, 2, 1] which is one of the practical methods to perform secure search on encrypted data. An alternative is to have on-device speech recognition as on-device intent matching, eliminating the need to have any cloud intermediary.
In this case the IDA device could be the user’s smartphone, laptop or desktop computer. The on-device solution allows us to avoid the data-in-use protection needed when performing computation in the cloud. It is more suitable for IDAs since they normally processes short-duration voice data in real time.
Performing speech recognition offline at the client side rather than at the cloud side means that at a minimum, the corresponding transcription hides the speakers’ biological and environmental voice features noted above, and only reveals the transcribed texts to the cloud server to enable the server to respond to the speakers’ queries.
The cloud server will use a search engine or any other convenient method to respond to queries depending on dynamic data such as news headlines, weather forecasts, travel information, shopping, etc. However, some very private tasks can be done locally at the user side without using a cloud server such as making phone calls, home management and calendar management.
Our on-device solution can also perform generic speech recognition to transcribe recorded office meetings or recorded customer service calls for example. Privacy and security concerns aside, the prospect of outsourcing data storage to the cloud is attractive for a number of reasons. With professional cloud hosting comes robust backup services, unlimited capacity and essentially it is cheap and more convenient than maintaining on-premise in-house databases. If stored data is always encrypted on the cloud then many concerns disappear, since encrypted data can still be searched, with state of the art searchable encryption techniques. This enables users to perform search when needed on their encrypted data stored at the cloud without costly download-decrypt-re-upload protocols. Third party queries, for example, such as the ones required by court in the Alexa murder case, could be privately issued through the use of multi-client searchable encryption schemes [17, 3] where the data owner (i.e. the user who recorded the meeting or conference call) only writes the encrypted data and gives access to queries to an authorized third party (e.g. court) according to a policy agreement between the data owner and the third party. The cloud server storing the encrypted audio data will not be able to know the encrypted queries or the encrypted audio data because it does not have the data owner’s secret keys. It will only be able to learn whether two encrypted queries are the same or not but will never ‘see’ the actual plaintext queries.
Path of most resistance
Whilst these cryptographic approaches are exciting, they represent a threat to the current order. Google, Apple and Amazon are all building business models that insert themselves in the transaction loop between consumer and brand.
“Alexa, get me a taxi to the airport” represents a major source of potential revenue to Amazon, who act as the arbiter of your intent. You want a cheap taxi, so you don’t care if it is Uber, Lyft or a local cab company. The lucky company pays a small commission to Amazon for being chosen. If Amazon acts as the payment provider, that represents a second source of income.
What is required is an in-home device that is powerful enough to provide the cloud power of speech recognition and intent matching to allow consumers to interact directly with the internet, but which is cheap enough that it provides a bulwark against low-cost devices provided by the major providers. The teardown cost reported by ABI Research of the second-generation Echo Dot is $34.87 . It retails at $49.99 for one device, or $40 for 2, and has been seen for as low as $30. Clearly it is being seen as a loss leader for other services.
The question is, in a world where privacy is regularly sacrificed by consumers for access to free services and content, who will blink first, the internet giants who depend on our data to fund their businesses, or the consumers who provide it?
1. R. Bost. Sophos:Forward secure searchable encryption. In CCS 2016
2. David Cash, Stanislaw Jarecki, Charanjit Jutla, Hugo Krawczyk, Marcel-Catalin Rosu, and Michael Steiner. Highly-scalable searchable symmetric encryption with support for boolean queries. In CRYPTO 2013.
3. Reza Curtmola, Juan Garay, Seny Kamara, and Rafail Ostrovsky. Searchable symmetric encryption: improved denitions and ecient constructions. In ACM CCS 2006.
4. Google, Amazon Patent Filings Reveal Digital Home Assistant Privacy Problems http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/Digital%20Assistants%20and%20Privacy.pdf
5. Neil M. Richards. The Puzzle of Brandeis, Privacy, and Speech.
6. Rita Singh, Joseph Keshet and Eduard Hovy. Profiling Hoax Callers. IEEE International Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security, Boston, May 2016.
7. Lydia Manikonda, Aditya Deotale, Subbarao Kambhampati. What’s up with Privacy?: User Preferences and Privacy Concerns in Intelligent Personal Assistants. AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Society (AIES) 2018. Url: http://www.public.asu.edu/~lmanikon/lydia-ipaprivacy.pdf
8. Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis. The Right To Privacy. Harvard Law Review. Vol. 4, No. 5 (Dec. 15, 1890), pp. 193-220. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1321160?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
14. Christi Olson, “Just Say It: The Future of Search is Voice and Personal Digital Assistants,” Campaign, 25 April 2016, bit.ly/2o1IvQs
15. Ovum, “Digital Assistant and Voice AI–Capable Device Forecast : 2016-21,” April 2017
16. GDPR. https://gdpr-info.eu/
17. S. Jarecki, C. Jutla, H. Krawczyk, M. C. Rosu, and M. Steiner. Outsourced symmetric private information retrieval. In ACM CCS 13, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 4–8, 2013. ACM Press
18. Disruptive Asia, “Amazon Echo Dot MkII teardown reveals significant cost reduction effort: ABI,” https://disruptive.asia/amazon-echo-dot-teardown-abi/, January, 2017.
“Are you ready for GDPR?”. “GPDR, 6 steps you *must* take”. “Do you want to go to prison and never see your kids again?” As CTO of a software company, I get a variation of one of these emails every single day, and I strongly suspect I am not alone. The first thing I am […]
“Are you ready for GDPR?”. “GPDR, 6 steps you *must* take”. “Do you want to go to prison and never see your kids again?”
As CTO of a software company, I get a variation of one of these emails every single day, and I strongly suspect I am not alone. The first thing I am going to do when GDPR comes in (28th May), I’m having every single one of the companies who is spamming me thrown into jail. Or can I? What is the hype all about, and how much should you worry?
Yes it affects you. Even Americans, so read on.
GDPR, for readers outside of the EU, is the General Data Protection Regulation, which passed through the EU Parliament almost two years ago, and it is meant to harmonise, or possibly re-harmonise, data protection legislation across the EU. And, of course, it affects anyone from outside the EU who trades in EU.
The last major overhaul of data protection legislation was in 1995, under the Data Protection Directive, which sought to control how organisations used personal data, like telephone numbers, addresses etc. This meant that EU citizens were able to access what data was held on them by organisations (in the UK for a modest fee of £10), and to put in place a regulatory framework of what could be done with that data, e.g. could it be sold to third parties.
Since then, the world has changed, with the explosion of the Internet and cloud services: and here is the hidden danger of GDPR. If you are using cloud services, you need to know where your data is being held. Actually, you should always have known that, but when GDPR kicks in, the potential fines for non-compliance are huge, up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). As The Register pointed out last year, 2016’s fines levied by the UK regulator (the Information Commissioner) would have risen 79 times.
Some companies, like Salesforce, have taken a very non-technical approach to some of their GDPR issues. Rather than ensuring that data is properly siloed and encrypted by geography, they have cut people off certain services, such as Salesforce IQ.
But what should you actually be doing to support your GDPR effort that you are not doing already?
Well, if you previously did business involving EU citizens and held their data, it was ambiguous as to whether you were affected by the EU Data Protection Directive. Well, as of May, that ambiguity goes, so if you are processing the personal data of an EU citizen, you must appoint a representative in the EU, and abide by the terms of GDPR.
It used to be easy to obfuscate your terms and conditions to obtain people’s consent to harvest and misuse their data. No more: consent must be clear and unambiguous. That has lead to some pretty interesting discussions. Twice this week, I have heard people say that data which has been obtained for “quality and training” purposes cannot be used for machine learning, because “you have to ask for specific consent for ‘machine learning’”. I think the world has gone mad. One of the ways we improve quality (and training) will be through the use of neural networks.
Hype and hysteria.
What a Difference Three Days Makes: 72 Little Hours.
If you think that there has been a data breach that is likely to “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals”, you have 72 hours to notify the breach and let your customers know. It will be interesting to see how the courts and regulators interpret this. You can see how a breach that leaks passwords is important, but what about names and addresses, data which is easy to obtain in any event?
Denial of Service Attack Access Rights
With GDPR comes new and shiny access rights. The biggest shift? You can get the personal data held on you for free, so the bar for the human DOS attack becomes much lower. What am I talking about?
Well, in my world, for example, we help people capture and monitor phone calls. Imagine if 10,000 people all at once contacted a large bank and said they had called into a call centre over a period of three weeks, two months ago.
And they want
Or the “Right to be Forgotten”, another new right. You can ask any organisation to delete your data, and they must comply.
Or they want
The right to have all their data provided in a ‘commonly used and machine-readable format’
Sounds easy, right?
First off, you only have a month to get the data back, or in exceptional circumstance three months (if, as the UK regulator puts it, “requests are complex or numerous”)
And then you have to identify it.
Voice is the hidden problem in any organisation. If you store it, even just voicemails, you must be able to label and retrieve it. You might think it is as easy as matching up a phone number. Not so. At any time, 5 people in my house could use the same landline. In my office, up to 25 people share the same external number. If I have a conference call, there could be all sorts of people on it. How the hell do I work out who is who? And if I Skype a telephone number? Quite often there is no Caller ID at all.
And what if 10,000 people asked the same question at the same time?
There are simple steps, obviously, like trying to capture the names and details of people who call in and store it against the voice record. In some cases that will work, but not for my conference call, or my casual enquiry to the bank (especially if I don’t want to give my name). In highly regulated environments like trading floors, every call is recorded, but at the moment, the metadata is frequently in a mess, and calls are just labelled with the name of the institution that called, or worse, nothing at all.
What I would do?
Set up a biometric database of people who call in (what people call a voiceprint). They are not fool proof, especially for authentication as the BBC demonstrated last year, by hacking HSBC, but they serve as a useful backstop to try to find people who may be trying very hard, and somewhat maliciously, not to be found.
GDPR does not end there. You need to ensure that your data storage is designed with privacy in mind, so ensuring proper access controls over data, and encrypting data at rest and in transit. People must be trained to understand the importance of data protection, and you need to have clear and defined policies in place.
Hype or not?
GDPR undoubtedly throws up new hurdles for businesses, but the real extent of that will only be found out as authorities start to enforce the regulations. Will they really use the maximum fines? And will it help? We have seen a steep rise in compliance for major banks in the wake of the massive fines levied by regulators in the wake of LIBOR, FX and other scandals. But those were multi-billion-dollar fines. The largest ever fine in the UK to date is a mere £400,000 ($560,000).
Castel Detect™, Castel’s call monitoring software, is successfully monitoring 15 million hours of telephone calls every year using its proprietary on-premise solution. Today it is announcing the availability of the same rich functionality as a cloud-based offering. Powered by Intelligent Voice®, Castel Detect™ delivers fast and accurate word and phrase detection for customer/agent conversation monitoring […]
Castel Detect™, Castel’s call monitoring software, is successfully monitoring 15 million hours of telephone calls every year using its proprietary on-premise solution. Today it is announcing the availability of the same rich functionality as a cloud-based offering.
Powered by Intelligent Voice®, Castel Detect™ delivers fast and accurate word and phrase detection for customer/agent conversation monitoring across a wide variety of industries. Telephone call compliance and monitoring is becoming increasingly important across a wide range of industries, from call centres to law enforcement and prisons.
Intelligent Voice’s speech recognition engine based around NVIDIA® GPU technology, leverages the massively parallel world of CUDA programming to give blisteringly fast ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) across large data sets.
“Our continued partnership with Castel, dedicated to deliver best in-class speech analytics capabilities to contact centres across the world has gone from strength to strength with Castel’s agents, using Intelligent Voice’s powerful GPU powered software, taking over 240000 monitored calls each day on premise. It made sense to enable the same speed and accuracy running in the cloud.”
Nigel Cannings, CTO Intelligent Voice
Cloud services, being well known as an inexpensive alternative to on-premise, opens the opportunities and capabilities to additional customers that otherwise may not have the infrastructure to run call monitoring on premise.
About Intelligent Voice®
Intelligent Voice Limited is based in London, San Francisco and New York. The company has over 25 years’ experience of delivering mission critical systems in the financial services industry, including to several of the world’s top 20 insurers and banks. Through innovations such as the SmartTranscript® and GPU-accelerated speech recognition, Intelligent Voice allow companies to understand their businesses better, with a key focus on unlocking the value in telephone and meeting room audio. For further information about Intelligent Voice, please visit www.intelligentvoice.com
Founded in 1982, Castel designs call center software, services and solutions engineered for businesses. Castel listens, learns, plans and partners with companies to define and realize their future. For more information, news and perspectives from Castel, please visit Castel Newsroom at http://www.castel.com/news/.
Intelligent Voice Signs Strategic Alliance with Navigant Contact: Jessica Harvey Tel: +44 203 627 2670 Email: [email protected] Belia Ortega, Navigant Consulting, Inc. 312.583.2640 [email protected] London, 23rd October 2017 – Intelligent Voice, a leading specialist in voice and analysis solutions, is delighted to announce its new strategic alliance with top global professional […]
Intelligent Voice Signs Strategic Alliance with Navigant
London, 23rd October 2017 – Intelligent Voice, a leading specialist in voice and analysis solutions, is delighted to announce its new strategic alliance with top global professional services firm, Navigant
“We are delighted to be working with Navigant,” says Ben Shellie, CEO of Intelligent Voice. “They provide state-of-the-art technology solutions, including e-discovery, forensics excellence, and deep information security capabilities required to address today’s most complex data challenges. For us, this type of full-service, highly-secure service provision is vital to protect today’s demanding clients.”
Says Richard Chalk, Director of Global Legal Technology Solutions for Navigant “Management and review of audio has become a major headache for a number of our clients. Intelligent Voice offers a solution that can be easily integrated into almost any workflow, and provides ultra-fast accurate processing in a small footprint.”
The new strategic alliance will allow rapid and effective deployment of Intelligent Voice for regulatory and investigative matters, in particular a deep integration with leading review tools such as Relativity. Intelligent Voice offers a suite of review capabilities using speech-to-text, phonetic indexing and biometric search.
Intelligent Voice offers a suite of review capabilities using speech-to-text, phonetic indexing and biometric search. Intelligent Voice provides cloud-level accuracy from an on-premise solution for clients who do not want data processed using public cloud providers. The solution also ensures compliance with existing and future data privacy regulations including GDPR.
About Intelligent Voice®
Intelligent Voice Limited is based in London, San Francisco and New York. The company has over 25 years’ experience of delivering mission critical systems in the financial services industry, including to several of the world’s top 20 insurers and banks. Through innovations such as the SmartTranscript® and GPU-accelerated speech recognition, Intelligent Voice allow companies to understand their businesses better, with a key focus on unlocking the value in telephone and meeting room audio. For further information about Intelligent Voice, please visit http://www.intelligentvoice.com
Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global professional services firm that helps clients take control of their future. Navigant’s professionals apply deep industry knowledge, substantive technical expertise, and an enterprising approach to help clients build, manage, and/or protect their business interests. With a focus on markets and clients facing transformational change and significant regulatory or legal pressures, the firm serves clients in the healthcare, energy, high tech and financial services industries. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and technology/analytics services, Navigant’s practitioners bring sharp insight that pinpoints opportunities and delivers powerful results. More information about Navigant can be found at www.navigant.com.