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Microsoft updates privacy policy to indicate humans may listen to Skype and Cortana data

Alongside Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, Microsoft has also come under fire this week for using human contractors to listen in on Skype Translator calls.

Following a Motherboard report that let the cat out of the bag, Microsoft has finally wisened up and updated its privacy policy to explicitly inform users that their Skype Translator calls could be reviewed by human contractors in order to improve the accuracy of the service. The updated privacy policy states that the company's "processing of personal data for these purposes includes both automated and manual (human) methods of processing."

The Skype Translator Privacy FAQ has been similarly updated, and now reads:

When you use Skype’s translation features, Skype collects and uses your conversation to help improve Microsoft products and services. To help the translation and speech recognition technology learn and grow, sentences and automatic transcripts are analyzed and any corrections are entered into our system, to build more performant services. This may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors, subject to procedures designed to protect users’ privacy, including taking steps to de-identify data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, and requiring that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law and elsewhere.

Interestingly, Cortana's privacy policy has also been updated with similar language. While this could just be a sign of Microsoft trying to cover its bases, it would not be surprising if the tech giant was also using humans to review Cortana interactions, given that its rivals Apple, Amazon and Google have all been found doing the same with their virtual assistants.

Unlike Facebook, which has "paused" its transcribing of Messenger calls, a Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard that it would continue with the practice.

Source: Motherboard

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