Microsoft is now under scrutiny after a contractor revealed that they are listening to some Cortana interactions and Skype conversations. Skype and Cortana documentation do not directly state that humans may be listening in on recordings in the system.
Cortana And Skype User Recordings
After revelations about Apple, Google, and Amazon, a Microsoft contractor is now revealing that they, too, are listening in on recordings from Cortana and Skype Translator. According to a report from Motherboard, Microsoft contractors occasionally listen in on real Skype conversations that have been translated using Skype’s Translator service.
In the audio recordings that the unnamed contractor shared with Motherboard, users’ intimate conversations can be heard including discussions on weight loss and relationship issues. What’s more, the contractor states that they have even heard users dictate their full addresses, engage in phone sex, and even use Cortana to search for pornography.
To be clear, the contractor did say that they do not have access to users’ personal, user-identifiable data. However, users may be unaware that snippets of some of their intimate and private conversations are being listened to by human contractors.
Apparently, this is done simply to test and further improve services, and Microsoft states that this is done with users’ permission. However, the problem is that it is not explicitly stated in Cortana and Skype Translator documentations that humans will be the ones reviewing the recordings.
According to Microsoft, collection of data and recordings are only on an opt-in basis, and users can easily delete the data that the company is holding. What’s more, a Microsoft spokesperson explains that several procedures are in place to protect user privacy before sharing the data they have with vendors. This includes non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, as well as de-identification of data.
“We continue to review the way we handle voice data to ensure we make options as clear as possible to customers and provide strong privacy protections,” the spokesperson says in the statement.