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Microsoft says humans could be listening to Skype calls – CNET

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Microsoft says humans are listening to snippets of some Skype calls.

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Microsoft has revealed that humans could be listening to “short snippets” of voice conversations on its audio services like Skype and virtual assistant Cortana, Motherboard reported Wednesday. The disclosure reportedly came in an update to Microsoft’s privacy statement.

The news comes a week after Motherboard reported that Microsoft contractors listen to recordings of some Skype conversations and some interactions with Cortana. It also follows similar revelations about other big tech firms and their audio services. This month, AppleGoogle and Amazon all suspended human review of user audio recordings, and Facebook followed suit last week.

“Our processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods,” Microsoft’s privacy policy says. “We manually review short snippets of a small sampling of voice data we have taken steps to de-identify to improve our speech services, such as recognition and translation.”

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

Motherboard added Wednesday afternoon that Microsoft’s human review contractors are paid between $12 and $14 an hour for the job, and transcribe up to 200 audio clips every hour. This could include hearing “personal and sensitive information” via Cortana recordings, Motherboard reported.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published Aug. 14, 12:41 p.m. PT.
Update, 12:50 p.m.: Adds further report on contractors’ pay and workload.

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