Microsoft Is Listening to You Through Your Xbox. A number of contractors hired by Microsoft have come forward to reveal serious privacy issues involving the company’s gaming console. . According to statements obtained by Vice, the contractors were hired to review Xbox audio recordings, including unintentionally recorded conversations. The goal of the audio reviewing was reportedly to improve the console’s voice command technology. The contractors worked exclusively on Xbox audio between 2014 and 2015 befo

Microsoft has been listening through your Xbox, but says it will stop

Amazon, Google and Apple all employed staff who listen to customer voice recordings without the customers’ knowledge

Your Xbox has been listening to you, and so were Microsoft contractors.

A spokesperson for Microsoft told Vice.com’s Motherboard the audio was captured to improve the console’s voice command features.

According to Motherboard, “the audio was supposed to be captured following a voice command like ‘Xbox’ or ‘Hey Cortana,’ but contractors said that recordings were sometimes triggered and recorded by mistake.”

A former contractor told Vice most of the voices they heard were children.

The Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard in an email the company has stopped the practice.

"We stopped reviewing any voice content taken through Xbox for product improvement purposes a number of months ago, as we no longer felt it was necessary, and we have no plans to re-start those reviews. We occasionally review a low volume of voice recordings sent from one Xbox user to another when there are reports that a recording violated our terms of service and we need to investigate. This is done to keep the Xbox community safe and is clearly stated in our Xbox terms of service.

"We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an additional statement. (Microsoft did not explicitly say humans may review audio recordings from its products in its privacy policy until after Motherboard's earlier reporting on Skype and Cortana).

"We’ve recently updated our privacy statement to add greater clarity that people sometimes review this data as part of the product improvement process," the company added. "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."

Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook all have employed people to listen to customer voice recordings.

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