, my friends. We are living in the age of lack of privacy!
Recently, Google, Amazon and Apple have gotten into trouble after being caught with their mouths on the cylinder listening to other people's conversations to improve the services of their respective virtual assistants Apple is even being sued for. Now it's time for another giant: Microsoft.
THE Motherboard obtained documents, screenshots and audio which show that humans hear Skype calls made using the app's translation function such feature was released in 2015 and allows users to get real time audio translations during audio / video calls.
While the company reports that it can analyze the audio of user calls which use the translation service for the purpose of improving the resource, there is absolutely nothing that humans can hear such conversations.
The documents indicate that these pieces of audio are provided to outsourced employees from a range of rough translations generated by the Skype translation system. The employee must then select the most accurate translation or provide their own. Audio itself is treated as confidential information by Microsoft, the data is only available through a secure online portal, and Microsoft takes steps to remove identifying information such as user or device ID numbers.
The problem is, as you can imagine, the audio according to Motherboard These include conversations from people who speak intimately with their peers, chats about personal issues (such as weight loss), and discussions about relationship issues. Other files obtained by the vehicle show that Microsoft vendors also hear voice commands that users speak to Cortana, the company's voice assistant.
The files and documents were released by one of those employees (who remained anonymous) from a third-party company hired by Microsoft, who said: “The fact that I can share some of this with you shows how loose things are in terms of protection. data from users. ”
The audio clips received by Motherboard between 5-10 seconds, but according to the source, some of them may have a longer duration.
Some things I heard could be clearly described as phone sex. I heard people talking full addresses on commands to Cortana, or asking Cortana to provide search returns for pornographic queries. Although I do not know exactly what anyone can do with this information, it seems strange to me that this is not being addressed in a more controlled environment.
Motherboard, a Microsoft spokesman gave the following statement:
Microsoft collects voice data to provide and improve voice-activated services such as search, voice commands, dictation, or translation services. We strive to be transparent about our collection and use of voice data to ensure that customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used. Microsoft obtains permission from customers before collecting and using their voice data.
The company also said that both Skype Translator's FAQ section and Cortana documentation are clear in reporting that it uses voice data to improve its services. However, as stressed by the Motherboard, they do not say that a human, a person, can hear these audio.
For Frederike Kaltheuner, leader of the data mining program at the activist group Privacy International, this is not at all certain. He stated that "companies should be 100% transparent about how people's conversations are recorded and how these recordings are being used."
We are definitely living in a difficult time when it comes to privacy and this needs to be discussed extensively to reach a common denominator.