Microsoft refuses to budge, says humans will still be able to transcribe audio

The last couple of months have been difficult for Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft as they have been under the radar for breaching user privacy. The reports first came surrounding Google recording everything a user says even then Google Assistant is not activated. Later, an anonymous contractor came forward to confirm that Apple does the same and it turned out that it was a trend and all the companies did it including Amazon and Microsoft. The issue reached its peak when users brought a class-action lawsuit against Apple last week. This forced companies to take steps to fix the situation and Amazon became the first company to actually act on it and add an opt-out option for the users.

While all the companies are moving forward to fix the situation, Microsoft has decided to move backwards. Instead of adding an option to opt-out, Microsoft quietly updated their privacy policy to include that humans are listening to audio recordings on Cortana and on Skype. The updated privacy policy (via Vice) reads, “Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing”.

The similar language has been spotted on Skype Translator FAQCortana’s support section and a Microsoft privacy page which reads, “This may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors, subject to procedures designed to prioritize 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”. Upon further investigation, we found that Microsoft updated its privacy policy on the 13th of August.

We realized, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content.

– Microsoft

Microsoft does allow users to delete audio files and other private data through their Privacy Dashboard but there’s no way to opt-out of getting recorded altogether. Apple, on the other hand, has confirmed that they will add an opt-out option soon but it’s unclear if Microsoft will follow suit.

Via Engadget

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