Microsoft is now the latest company to admit that it is working with human contractors who manually listen to Skype and Cortana recordings of users. Previously, major technology companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon were caught listening manually to their users' audio recordings through their respective digital voice assistants and services.
“Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing. Our automated methods often are related to and supported by our manual methods. For example, our automated methods include artificial intelligence (AI), which we think of as a set of technologies that enable computers to perceive, learn, reason, and assist in decision-making to solve problems in ways that are similar to what people do. To build, train, and improve the accuracy of our automated methods of processing (including AI), we manually review some of the predictions and inferences produced by the automated methods against the underlying data from which the predictions and inferences were made. 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 has put out a similar disclosure on apps and services like Skype Translator, Cortana digital voice assistant and Microsoft Support. Last week, Motherboard reported Microsoft works with human contractors to review audio recordings from its devices and apps without informing users.
While companies like Google, Apple and Facebook suspended or partially suspended their practice, Amazon provides users with an option to opt-out of human review of their audio recordings. Hence, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft addresses these privacy concerns.