"On the record": CNIL publishes a white paper on voice assistants

16 December 2020

Voice assistants have become a must because of their presence in smartphones, cars and even refrigerators. In order to explore the ethical, technical and legal issues involved, CNIL publishes a white paper for professionals and the general public.

Voice, a challenge for personal data

By joining forces with numerous researchers and experts, particularly in the field of speech processing, the CNIL explains the issues with this technology and offers an unprecedented and comprehensive vision of it. This white paper draws on the work carried out since 2016 by the Digital Innovation Laboratory (LINC), both in terms of compliance and research .

Indeed, voice assistants have a special place in new communication technologies. They have been designed to facilitate our use of digital technology (particularly for people with disabilities), and their presence at the heart of our homes can make them potentially intrusive. Moreover, special attention must be paid to the fact that voice can be a biometric characteristic of individuals.

Guidance addressed to all audiences, from the designer to the end user

The CNIL presents leading practices for designers, application developers, integrators and organisations wishing to roll out voice assistants in shared locations. It emphasises the need for transparency and security of the devices designed, in order to comply with GDPR and protect the privacy of individuals.

The white paper also explains how good security practices that users can implement, for instance to ensure confidentiality of the data transmitted, or the protect children who may interact with those devices.

Document reference