Microsoft contractors talked about listening to Skype calls

Contractors working for Microsoft may be able to listen to the private conversations of Skype users. About this, representatives of the company, whose name is not disclosed, told the publication Motherboard.   In 2015, Skype launched the service “Translator”, which translates the conversation directly during the call. The tool enables Skype users to chat or chat in different languages ​​with people around the world. To do this, Skype uses artificial intelligence, but, like in many other projects using AI or machine learning, part of the work is done by people to improve its functioning algorithms.   At the same time, the Skype Translator FAQ says: “To help the technology develop, we check automatic translations and send corrections back to the system to create more efficient services.” However, this section does not report that audio captured by the Translator function can be heard by live people.   Audio recordings from the Skype translator received by Motherboard from representatives of the contracting company include personal conversations. Some users talk about their problems or discuss relationship issues. Some files contain commands for Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant. Fragments of audio are usually short, lasting from five to ten seconds, however, as emphasized in Motherboard, passages can be longer. “People use Skype to call their lovers, get interviews, or chat with their families abroad. Companies should be 100% transparent about how people’s conversations are recorded and how these recordings are used, ”Motherboard quotes Frederic Kalteuner, activist at Privacy International, an organization for protecting personal information. “And if a sample of your voice is heard by a person (for any reason), the system should ask you if you agree with this and, at least, give you the opportunity to refuse.”   A Microsoft spokeswoman, at Motherboard’s request, said: “Microsoft collects audio data to improve the performance of services such as search, voice commands, dictation or translation services. Microsoft obtains permission from customers before collecting and using their voice data. “We are continuing to review ways to process voice data in order to provide the most clear choices for customers and provide strong privacy protection.”    Meanwhile, Apple is facing a similar lawsuit issue. A class action lawsuit accuses Apple of violating user privacy. The lawsuit was filed after The Guardian reported that Apple contractors regularly listen to confidential conversations recorded by Siri’s voice assistant. The lawsuit alleges that Siri users are tapped without their consent, and Apple is accused of refusing to inform consumers that this could happen.   Apple previously announced that it had already suspended its Siri performance appraisal program following an article by The Guardian.