It has been revealed that certain Microsoft workers are able to occasionally listen to real Skype conversations that have been processed by translation software.
According to popular technology site Motherboard, some contractors for Microsoft are able to review such conversations in order to analyse the sheer quality of the translations.
However, this is not stated outright in Skype’s terms and conditions, yet Microsoft claims that it has users’ permission to collect and process their data accordingly.
Skype’s Translator service is able to translate dialogue during real-time audio and video calls, thus facilitating cohesion problems that there might be between the callers.
However, Motherboard claims that Skype obtained audio from translated Skype conversations that included ones where the users “spoke intimately to loved ones” and also discussed personal matters that should not be heard by others, such as relationship problems.
Apart from this, Motherboard also claims that it has evidence that human contractors could hear voice commands that were directed to Cortana, which is Microsoft’s official virtual voice-activated assistant.
A Microsoft spokesperson claimed that it gains the users’ permission before collecting and using their voice data, and it “also put in place several procedures designed to prioritise users’ privacy before sharing this data with our vendors, including de-identifying data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, and requiring that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law.”
This comes after there have been plenty of harsh criticisms directed towards human contractors assessing recordings made by people using tech products lately.
Apple and Google in particular were forced to suspend their use of human contractors for reviewing voice recordings that are made by the companies’ virtual assistants and their own smart speakers last week.
Furthermore, Amazon were in discussions with Luxembourg’s data protections watchdog over how the firm processed voice recordings that are made by people making use of the company’s smart assistant, Alexa.