YEAR 2022 No 3

ISSN 2182-9845

“The power of the voice”: virtual voice assistants, voice commands and contracting by means of voice

Julia Ammerman Yebra


Voice; electronic contract; biometric recognition; voice virtual assistant; contractual consent; privacy policies. 


Voice is a feature that individualizes and identifies us. Also, a voice is a biometric data, which means that once a voice has been processed, its owner can be identified. This allows us to state that the voice can be used as a means to authenticate the signature of an electronic contract. Therefore, biometric voice recognition techniques will make it possible to identify the owner of the voice, who will thus be giving his contractual consent. The issue could become more complicated when not only the “voiceprint” is used as a signature, but also the counterpart is a virtual voice assistant. These assistants, designed to both “answer” and “listen”, should contain strong privacy policies regarding the processing of the voices interacting with them. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the consent given both for electronic contracting by voice and for the processing of these voices by virtual assistants.

Table of contents

1. Introduction: the intangibility of the voice vs. the growing power of the “spoken word” 
1.1. What can neither be seen nor touched
1.2. The power of the “spoken word”
2. Voices and contracts: the voice in the different phases of contracting
2.1. The voice in the initial phases of the contract
2.2. The voice in the phase of conclusion of the contract
a) Verbal contracts
b) The signing of contracts by means of the voice
3. User interaction by means of voice and virtual voice assistants
3.1. Voice processing as biometric data 
3.2. Analysis of the consent given by the users to the processing of their voice data
a) When the processing of voice data is necessary for the performance of the contract. The case of virtual voice assistants
b) When the processing of voice data is not necessary for the performance of the contract. The case of “voice data” clauses in other services
4. Final conclusion