A Taipei City councilor accused the city's 1999 citizen hotline of providing recordings of city residents to third-party manufacturers for data analysis in two speech recognition evaluation projects. In response, the city government said there were no violations of the Personal Data Protection Act but it will review the contracts.
Taipei residents can call the 1999 citizen hotline to ask about transport options or complain about garbage, noise, or pollution. However, they may not know that recordings of their conversations may be provided to third parties. Taipei City Councilor Miao Po-ya recently accused the city government of providing third-party manufacturers with voice recordings and without prior permission for AI speech recognition analysis. The city government responded this is within its authority.
Miao Po-ya, Taipei City Councilor: “The explanation is that they're training robots in speech recognition, and they might not actually include people's recordings for analysis. If you can use this to explain your legal authority, then in the future all the personal information residents give to the city government can be provided to external third-party manufacturers using the same method.”
Miao said voice recordings involve voiceprints, which are similar to biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or irises. Even if names are redacted, there is no way to ensure there are no identifying properties before they are provided to manufacturers. According to the contracts, the analyzed intellectual property rights belong to the manufacturers, and there are no penalties if they abuse them.
Chen Hui-min, Spokesperson, Dept. of Info. Technology, Taipei City: “Government agencies are working on a 1999 speech recognition collaboration that is within the scope of its authority. It complies with Article 16-2 and Article 16-5 of the Personal Data Protection Act, as well as the provisions on the exemption of the obligation to inform in Article 8-2 and Article 9-2.”
So far, 1,400 voiceprints have been given to manufacturers for analysis. Miao said the trial program should be suspended and an exit mechanism should be set up. The city's Department of Information Technology responded the project targets the most frequently appearing phrases in files, and does not analyze individual files. It will reassess whether there are violations of the Personal Data Protection Act as well as its contracts.