This has apparently been going on for a while now. With voice commands on the Xbox, contractors from Microsoft have had the ability to listen in on Cortana voice exchanges.
Before, they were able to hear any voice commands to Kinect. Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, was removed from Xbox back in July but Cortana could still be controlled on there via app on iOS or Android. It is also said that Skype calls are being monitored as well and the information is acquired by Motherboard.
Microsoft’s defense says that they’ve been open about using contractors to listen in on commands in order to accumulate information and improve their services.
“We’ve recently updated our privacy statement to add greater clarity that people sometimes review this data as part of the product improvement process. 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 in the law. At the same time, we’re actively working on additional steps we can take to give customers more transparency and more control over how their data is used to improve products.”-Microsoft Spokesman
This does raise the question that if they’re able to listen in through Cortana, do they have the ability to listen in through other Microsoft devices? Other companies, such as Apple and Google have done the same thing and have since withdrawn from recording audio through contractors.
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