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Microsoft Admits Listening To Cortana, Skype

US tech giant Microsoft has updated its privacy policies to admit and reflect the fact that human contractors often listen to audio recordings of Skype Translator and Cortana interactions.

Microsoft, along with Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, was recently found to be using human workers to review and transcribe interactions between users and their products, particularly digital voice assistants.

While Google, Facebook, and Apple both announced earlier this month they will temporarily suspend the practice for some recordings, Microsoft has simply updated its privacy policies to disclose and specify that human workers may be listening in to recordings.

“We realised, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content,” a Microsoft spokesperson told tech vertical Motherboard, who first spotted the change in the policies.

Microsoft said the data is stripped of any identifying data before being analysed by contractors who sign non-disclosure agreements.

Tech companies maintain the audio is analysed to improve the services they provide.

Long, wordy privacy and data collection policies as well as the “take it or leave it” approach that requires users to agree to policies they likely haven’t read in detail in order to use a service were identified as some of the issues in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recently released report from the Digital Platforms Inquiry.

“We’re very concerned that current privacy policies offer consumers the illusion of control but instead are almost legal waivers that give digital platforms’ broad discretion about how they can use consumers’ data,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.


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