Can you meaningfully consent in eight seconds? Identifying Ethical Issues with Verbal Consent for Voice Assistants

William Seymour*, Mark Coté, Jose Such

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Determining how voice assistants should broker consent to share data with third party software has proven to be a complex problem. Devices often require users to switch to companion smartphone apps in order to navigate permissions menus for their otherwise hands-free voice assistant. More in line with smartphone app stores, Alexa now offers "voice-forward consent", allowing users to grant skills access to personal data mid-conversation using speech. While more usable and convenient than opening a companion app, asking for consent 'on the fly' can undermine several concepts core to the informed consent process. The intangible nature of voice interfaces further blurs the boundary between parts of an interaction controlled by third-party developers from the underlying platforms. This provocation paper highlights key issues with current verbal consent implementations, outlines directions for potential solutions, and presents five open questions to the research community. In so doing, we hope to help shape the development of usable and effective verbal consent for voice assistants and similar conversational user interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th International Conference on Conversational User Interfaces, CUI 2022
PublisherACM
ISBN (Electronic)9781450397391
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series

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