Microsoft Contractors Also Listen To User Calls


We have another privacy nightmare, folks! Apple recently landed in hot waters after it emerged that its contractors were listening to user recordings made by Siri, in an effort to improve the AI behind the service.

The recordings often included very private details of the users that should not be otherwise available when reviewing audio samples.

It caused quite a storm, as you can imagine.

Well, it looks like Microsoft is not far behind here.

Someone with the knowledge of the process shared intelligence with Motherboard that Microsoft contractors are also getting access to private user data. The whistleblower says that the recordings he listened to included phone sex, pornography queries and full address details.

These audio snippets came from services like the Skype Translator engine and Cortana, both of which collect samples to help improve the translation and AI system.

Anyway, Microsoft has confirmed that parts of the user conversation are uploaded to its servers for analysis. However, the company did not provide specifics as to whether this data is reviewed by a person or an automated system.

You can take a guess, though!

Redmond did make it clear that personal information is not included in the data that it collects from users, contrary to the claims made by the whistleblower:

“Microsoft collects voice data to provide and improve voice-enabled services like search, voice commands, dictation or translation services. We strive to be transparent about our collection and use of voice data to ensure customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used. Microsoft gets customers’ permission before collecting and using their voice data.”

Oh well.

Now, while Apple has already announced that it is taking a series of measures to protect users, including options for them to opt out and block the sending of audio samples to its servers, Microsoft is yet to confirm such changes.

Fingers crossed it does so.


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