Microsoft contractors listen to Skype calls and Cortana recordings

Microsoft contractors listen to Skype calls and Cortana recordings
Skype allows contractors to listen to conversations recorded for its real-time translator. Credit: Unsplash

Microsoft has allowed contractors to listen to conversations recorded via the Skype automated translation feature and the voice assistant Cortina, Vice magazine reported, citing internal documents, screenshots and audio recordings. 

Google, Apple and Amazon had already been put on the spot in the past for allowing employees to listen to recordings made by voice assistants. The accused companies insist they do so in order to eliminate faults in the system.

No personal data is included in what collaborators listen to, but some recordings, however, might contain private information. Vice claimed to have listened to Skype recordings where users discussed personal problems. 

In 2015, Skype launched a service that allows users to receive near real-time translations of video or telephone conversations. Microsoft uses artificial intelligence for this, but it now appears that people intervene to improve the system. 

Skype states on its website that it analyses conversations but does not say that people listen to them and this is not specified in the Microsoft privacy policy, according to Vice.

Microsoft spokesperson said the company requests customers’ permission before collecting and using voice data. The software giant also specified that only anonymous audio data is available for contractors through a secure online portal. According to a whistle-blower, however, these employees can work from home.

The Brussels Times

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