Microsoft's contractors listened in on Xbox users, report says – CNET

Is Microsoft listening in on you?

James Martin/CNET

Microsoft's contractors listened in on Xbox players using Cortana voice control features, Vice reported Wednesday. Voice data was also captured from the Kinect system's voice commands prior to Cortana being added in 2016, according to the report.

Microsoft last week revealed that humans could be listening to "short snippets" of voice conversations on its audio services, including Skype and virtual assistant Cortana. That followed similar revelations about other big tech firms and their audio services. Earlier this month, AppleGoogle and Amazon all suspended human review of user audio recordings, and then Facebook followed suit.

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that it has "long been clear" that it collects voice data that's sometimes reviewed by people.

"We always get customer permission before collecting voice data, we take steps to de-identify voice snippets being reviewed to protect people's privacy and we require that handling of this data be held to the highest privacy standards," the spokesperson added.

The Xbox eavesdropping "came up first as a bit of an outlier, then became about half of what we did before becoming most of what we did," a former Microsoft contractor reportedly told Vice.

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

Cortana was removed from Xbox headsets in July, though it can still be used via the Cortana phone app.

First published at 1:51 p.m. PT on Aug. 21.
Updated at 3:41 p.m.: adds statement from Microsoft

Microsoft's contractors listened in on Xbox users, report says     - CNET

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Microsoft's contractors listened in on Xbox users, report says     - CNET

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