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TechnologyMicrosoft says humans could be listening to Skype calls

23:46  14 august  2019
23:46  14 august  2019 Source:   cnet.com

Microsoft tweaks privacy policy to admit humans can listen to Skype Translator and Cortana audio

Microsoft tweaks privacy policy to admit humans can listen to Skype Translator and Cortana audio Microsoft is the latest tech giant to amend its privacy policy after media reports revealed it uses human contractors to review audio recordings of Skype and Cortana users. A section in the policy on how the company uses personal data now reads (emphasis ours): 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.

Microsoft has flagged that humans could be listening to "short snippets" of voice conversations on its audio services like Skype and virtual assistant Cortana , Motherboard reported Wednesday. The disclosure reportedly came via an update of its privacy statement.

Microsoft says humans could be listening to Skype calls© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Microsoft says humans are listening to snippets of some Skype calls. Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It comes a week after Motherboard reported that Microsoft contractors listen to recordings of some Skype conversations and interactions with Cortana -- which follows Apple, Google and Amazon recently suspending human review of user audio recordings, with Facebook last week following suit.

Facebook ends human review of user audio after other companies do the same

Facebook ends human review of user audio after other companies do the same Facebook is now the latest tech giant to put a stop to human review of user audio recordings, following a slew of companies from Google to Amazon and Apple all likewise coming under fire in recent weeks over the human review of audio collected from users. In Facebook's case, the company acknowledged Tuesday that it paused the practice earlier this month after those other companies started to attract scrutiny over basically the same thing. That's

"Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods," the privacy policy says. "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 says humans could be listening to Skype calls© CNET

Microsoft's privacy statement says human review is used to help build, train and improve accuracy of its artificial intelligence systems.

Vice added Wednesday afternoon that Microsoft's human review contractors are paid between $12 and $14 an hour for the job, and transcribe up to 200 audio clips every hour. This could include hearing "personal and sensitive information" via Cortana recordings, Vice reported.

Microsoft is retiring Skype For Business Online

Microsoft is retiring Skype For Business Online Skype for Business Online will be retired by Microsoft on July 31, 2021. What you need to know Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021. Microsoft will onboard new Office 365 customers to Microsoft Teams starting September 1, 2019. Several new features will be added to Microsoft Teams before Skype for Business Online's retirement. Microsoft is retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021 . In the two years leading up to retirement, current users will experience no change in service. But starting on September 1, 2019, Microsoft will onboard any new Office 365 customers directly to Microsoft Teams for chat, meetings, and calling.

Microsoft didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published at 12:41 p.m. PT on Aug. 14.

Updated at 12:50 p.m.: adds further report on contractors' pay and workload.

Microsoft says humans could be listening to Skype calls© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
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