Earlier this month, Microsoft was revealed to be sending off some of the data Cortana records to contractors to transcribe. While there was some consternation about the transparency of the program, Microsoft says that the terms of service make it clear.
In a statement released to Motherboard, the firm said:
We’re always looking to improve transparency and help customers make more informed choices. Our disclosures have been clear that we use customer content from Cortana and Skype Translator to improve these products, we engage third party expertise to assist in this process, and we take steps to de-identify this content to protect people’s privacy.”
Of course, as Microsoft updated its terms of service to make it even more clear, it’s not certain what “have been clear” means in this context.
The Motherboard report reveals that contractors are mean to transcribe up to 300 pieces o audio per hour and are paid between $12 and $14 for it with a max bonus taking it to $15 per hour. Contractors have noted that personal and private information has slipped into these audio snippets as originally reported.
Human contractors will always be involved in these activities, but firms like Microsoft and Google should offer an easy way to opt-out.