Technology

Microsoft Admits Humans Listen To Cortana and Skype Recordings

Slowly and steadily, many silicon valley tech giants have come forward about their use of human contractors to listen to audio recordings of users.

And Microsoft is the latest one to public the truth. Following numerous reports on the subject, Microsoft has admitted that some humans do listen to Skype and Cortana audio recordings.

But the case is slightly different from the revelations from Facebook, Apple, and other tech giants. Unlike others who are working towards for a fix (post backlash, of course!), Microsoft has unflinchingly admitted the fact by simply updating a privacy policy.

Here is a snippet from the Microsoft latest privacy statement. Like every privacy policy out there, the first statement on the page goes, “Your privacy is important to us.” Somewhere at the end, there is some information about “manual” methods of processing.

“Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual methods of processing… To build, train, and improve the accuracy of our automated methods of processing (including AI), we manually review some of the predictions…For example, we manually review short snippets of a small sampling of voice data we have taken steps to de-identify to improve our speech services, such as recognition and translation.”

Microsoft admitted the truth comes after Motherboard’s report that revealed the company’s contractors are listening to Skype’s translations and audio snippets of Cortana.

It is important to note that Microsoft is recording audio only for the Skype translation feature and not Skype audio or video calls. However, Cortana is giving out everything to Microsoft; so, all your questionable requests to Cortana are already saved with Microsoft.  Although, there is a private dashboard where you can delete all the stored voice data.

These incidents have made one thing clear that companies are using human contractors to listen to your conversations for improving the A.I assistance.

Many of us would have given our consent if the message was loud and clear on the platforms. However, the practice of keeping users in deception, and coming out only after getting caught is the main issue. Companies need to be proactive and inform users about the personal data they are sharing with other humans or firms.

What is your opinion on the topic?

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