Microsoft contractors are listening to select Skype calls and Cortana recordings

Microsoft contractors are manually reviewing voice recordings collected through Skype's automatic translation feature and Cortana voice support, and new reports from Motherboard have been released. In the audio recordings shared with the publication, the user was able to hear intimate conversations and talk about other personal topics such as relationship issues and weight loss. The contractor who shared the audio file with the motherboard said, "The fact that I can share this information with you shows how I can afford it in terms of user data protection."

As part of the review process, they heard what they described as “phone gender” and also heard that users used Cortana commands and voice assistant to search pornography and enter their full address.

Contractors don't have access to user-identifiable information, but Microsoft customers are probably “ You will not like the fact that personal conversation has become a joke by "random people sitting at home in pajamas". Motherboard is the contractor house. A spokesman for Microsoft said all vendors agreed to a confidentiality agreement and Microsoft has auditing authority to ensure compliance.

This revelation comes after Apple, Amazon, and Google go through a thorough investigation of voice data processing. In light of the revelation in the process of manipulating each voice assistant, Apple said it temporarily suspended the practice of having contractors listen to recordings, while Google discontinued its own program in Europe and regulators are investigating the practice. Meanwhile, Amazon has now revealed that humans will manually review voice data, which allows them to provide opt-out capabilities.

The purpose of having the contractor listen to the recording is to improve the voice service used. For Microsoft, according to motherboard some contractors will hear audio from Skype's machine translation service, which resumed in 2015. After each clip is manually translated, several machine translations are provided.

Microsoft publishes both the Skype Translator FAQ and Cortana documentation. "Automatic translations and feeds" [verifies the] But "I use voice data to improve our service and say," I build a better service by analyzing sentence and automatic transcripts and entering corrections into the system. " The motherboard pointed out that it does not explicitly say that humans can hear.

Microsoft said that it only collects and uses voice data in an opt-in way when asking for feedback, and that it can go to the Voice section of the Privacy Dashboard to delete voice data from the company.

A spokesman for Microsoft added in a statement: "We are working to maintain transparency about the collection and use of voice data so that customers can choose information about when and how to use voice data." "Microsoft obtains customer permission before collecting and using voice data." This voice data is "used to provide and improve voice support services such as search, voice commands, dictation, or translation services." . "

" is also designed to prioritize users' privacy prior to sharing this data with non-vendors, such as data non-identification processing, requiring nondisclosure agreements with suppliers, etc. "We had to meet the high privacy standards set out in European law," said a spokesman. "We continue to review how voice data is processed to make our options as clear as possible to our customers, Provides strong privacy protection. ”

1PM ET: Additional information from Microsoft Updated.

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