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Microsoft Updates Its Privacy Policy To Let Users Know That It Listens To Their Conversation


Microsoft updated their privacy policy to let its users know that contractors can listen to their conversation. This is coming after the revelation by tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple have revealed that human elements review the transcribed messages to help the artificial intelligence software better translate messages.

“We realised, based on questions raised recently, that we could do a better job specifying that humans sometimes review this content,” a spokesperson from Reuters said in an emailed statement.

These tech companies have faced criticism by privacy campaigners about listening to their conversation without making it clear in their term and conditions that audio messages could be subject to human review.

“We’ve updated our privacy statement and product FAQs to add greater clarity and will continue to examine further opportunities to improve,” the spokesperson from Microsoft said. A part of the reviewed policy now reads:

Our automated methods often are related to and supported by our manual methods. For example, our automated methods include artificial intelligence, which we think of as asset of technologies that enable computers to perceive, learn, reason, and assist in decision-making to solve problems in ways that are similar to what people do. To build, train, and improve the accuracy of our automated methods of processing (including AI), we manually review some of the predictions and inferences produced by the automated methods against the underlying data from which the predictions and inferences were made. For example, we manually review short snippets of a small sampling of voice data we have taken steps to identify to improve our speech services, such as recognition and translation.”

Tech giants have been popular for this headline in the last couple of weeks concerning the practice of subjecting snippets of audio messages to human review. Some of these messages according to the contractors included the use of vulgar words, instances of sexual abuse and communication between lovers.

Apple, amazon, Facebook and Google have been called out for not properly conveying to users in their terms and conditions that a portion of audio recording could be reviewed manually by humans. Even though the contractors were employed to improve the performance of the artificial intelligence system, the tech giants should have been transparent in their policy.

Apple suspended Siri, Google suspended Google Assistant, Facebook also followed suit in response to media disclosures. Amazon is also not left out in the privacy scrutiny. Rather than opt out or suspend the service, it quietly added an option for users to opt out of the possibility of a contractor listening to their Alexa recording.

Microsoft says it is not opting out of human reviews at the moment but will continue to examine steps to give users maximum privacy.

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