Microsoft contractors review some private Skype calls and Cortana recordings
Microsoft Admits The company informs users that calls can be analyzed but does not notify them that they would be reviewed by their workers Microsoft has admitted that its workers listen and transcribe a part of the voice commands to its digital assistant Cortana, as well as some Skype calls, although the company has defended that it only does so after accepting it from users.
As Vice has revealed, Microsoft uses human workers to listen and transcribe personal conversations via Skype, in the cases where the users of the service used the translation tool offered by the application. This Skype translation service, which the application launched in 2015, allows users to obtain real-time text translations when they make a voice call or video call with another person. This function operates through the mechanisms of Artificial Intelligence of Microsoft.
Although the Skype application informs users in its policies that calls with the translation tool can be analyzed, it does not warn them that this process may involve review by human employees. Likewise, the revision and transcription work carried out by Microsoft workers also includes the users’ voice commands to the Microsoft digital assistant, Cortana, included as standard in Windows 10, as Vice has collected.
As was the case with Amazon and its assistant Alexa, Google and the Assistant and Apple with Siri – these last two companies announced the stoppage of their quality control programs recently – Microsoft’s transcription work aims to improve the recognition of voice and translations of tools like Cortana and Skype. Microsoft has acknowledged in a statement sent to Vice that “it collects voice data to provide or improve voice services such as search, voice commands, dictation and translation.”
The company has argued that it tries to be “transparent” in the use of data and inform users, ensuring that “it obtains permission from users before collecting and using their voice data” and that security procedures are applied to respect the Privacy such as the anonymity of data and the prohibition of its dissemination to third parties.