After Apple and Google, it turns out Microsoft is also doing the same thing.
According to a report from Motherboard which cites an anonymous contractor, Microsoft is listening in to your Skype and Cortana audio as well. Much like Google and Apple do, the firm sends a little bit of audio to its small army of human contractors around the globe for analysis, ranging between 5 – 10 seconds.
The bone of contention here appears to be that while Microsoft does tell users that some of their audio will be analysed, it leads them to assume that it would be AI-based as opposed to human contractors. While it is obvious when you think about it for a moment, the clarity gap can be argued to still exist, a point pressed by Motherboard and Privacy advocate Pat Walshe.
“Some stuff I’ve heard could clearly be described as phone sex. I’ve heard people entering full addresses in Cortana commands, or asking Cortana to provide search returns on pornography queries. While I don’t know exactly what one could do with this information, it seems odd to me that it isn’t being handled in a more controlled environment,” the contractor told Motherboard, further saying: “I generally feel like that while we do not have access to user identifiable information, that if Microsoft users were aware that random people sitting at home in their pyjamas who could be joking online with friends about the stuff they just heard that they wouldn’t like that.”
Microsoft argued that its privacy policies are clear and user consent is received first. Though one must wonder if tech companies simply making it easier to opt-out of their audio transcription processes would be an easy and quick fix.