Feeling Left Out, Microsoft Admits to Audio Listening

Finally, the ole gang is complete. After Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google admitted to farming audio queries to contractors, Microsoft has updated its privacy policy to reflect that it does too, with Skype and Cortana (via Vice).

Audio Collection

After Motherboard found that Microsoft contractors listened to some Skype calls, the company has updated its privacy policy to include that.

While explaining how conversations made using Skype Translator are collected and used, the product’s FAQ now reads, “This may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors, subject to procedures designed to protect users’ privacy, including taking steps to de-identify data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, and requiring that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law and elsewhere.” A page about Cortana now contains an identical paragraph, as does a Microsoft support page.

Like Apple, Microsoft also provides a tool that lets users delete audio recordings on its servers. (The Apple setting will appear in a future iOS update). Both Apple and Microsoft paused their programs, while Google was forced to, at least in Germany. But Microsoft plans to keep on chugging.

While you can certainly argue that processing audio recordings from users helps improve the machine learning, the issue is that no company disclosed this to its users, not even Apple.

Who’s next, Snapchat?

Further Reading:

[Facebook Contractors Listened to User Audio Too]

[Germany Orders Google to Stop Human Review of Voice Recordings]

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