IS MICROSOFT STEALING YOUR DATA?
On Wednesday, in a not so surprising turn of events, Microsoft has at last admitted to spying. With Skype and Cortana’s voice-recording feature, Microsoft revealed that they listen to conversations. Moreover, human contractors have been listening to the discussions for a long time.
Microsoft’s Cortana And Skype Recordings Lack Privacy
Reveals in Earlier Events
The suspicion first broke out earlier this month. One of the contractors gave away documents, screenshots, and actual audio files of some conversations. The anonymous contractor informed Motherboard “The fact that I can even share some of this with you shows how lax things are in terms of protecting user data”.
However, unlike the recent turn of events regarding Apple’s Siri privacy breach, Microsoft has not found any criminal activities. Nevertheless, they have intimate conversations about weight loss, love, and relationship problems. Also, unlike Apple, Microsoft has not ceased its activities.
Initially, Skype mentioned overhearing communications for the sole purpose of analysis and improvement. However, there was a lack of knowledge that the process would happen through humans. It never explicitly stated anything of such sort.
Updates In The Recent Events
As a response by Microsoft due to current events “Microsoft collects voice data to provide and improve voice-enabled services like search, voice commands, dictation or translation services.”
In the FAQ section, it stated that it records to “help the translation and speech technology learn and grow”. So, a person not using translation would automatically assume full privacy.
Furthermore, they added, “We strive to be transparent about our collection and use of voice data to ensure customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used”.
After this, the updated FAQ answer appended that “Microsoft employees and vendors” could be deciphering the translated audio, and the procedures are “designed to protect users’ privacy, including taking steps to de-identify data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees”.
In contrast, Cortana records everything without limitations. According to the support page, it collects data every time one invokes voice or skill.
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In the ever-expanding market of voice assistants, this news could prove to be a setback. Google, Amazon and Apple are reviewing their “recording conversations for improvement of technology”.
Meanwhile, Google informed that it would completely halt listening to and transcribing conversations from Google Assistant. This can be a huge set back as these software recordings lack privacy.