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Microsoft contractors are listening to your Xbox conversations


What just happened? Contractors hired by Microsoft to improve the Xbox voice command feature have been listening to audio captured by the console according to a report from Motherboard. The audio in question was supposed to be captured after the user gave a “Hey Cortana” or “Xbox” verbal command although some contractors said recordings were triggered inadvertently and by mistake.

The revelation is the latest in a string of questionable handling of private recordings captured by voice-activated devices. Recently, we’ve learned that Microsoft contractors have been listening to Skype calls for quality control purposes. They’re also being fed audio from Cortana, Microsoft’s digital voice assistant.

Some of the stuff heard by contractors was described as phone sex while others discussed topics like weight loss and relationship issues.

With regard to Xbox, a former contractor, who was paid $10 an hour for their work, said most of the voices they here are of children. “The Xbox stuff was actually a bit of a welcome respite, honestly. It was frequently the same games. Same DLCs. Same types of commands,” the person added.

One former contractor said that as time went on and the feature improved, they got less accidental stuff.

Apple found itself in hot water over its use of contractors listening to Siri queries and the conversations that followed accidental activations. Apple has since suspended its grading program. Facebook also recently admitted that contractors have been transcribing Messenger voice recordings. Even Amazon workers have been caught listening to your Alexa conversation.

Masthead credit: Xbox One S by Jeramey Lende


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