To improve voice translation features offered by Skype and its digital assistant Cortana, Microsoft has admitted listening to user conversations. However, it stated that it normally does so only after obtaining user permission, AFP reported on Wednesday, August 7th.
A report has been released by news website Vice, indicating people overheard chats on personal topics such as relationships and weight.
Microsoft later explained that they strive to be transparent about their collection and use of voice data to ensure customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used, adding that the company gets its permission from the customers before collecting their voice data, and takes privacy precautions including stripping away identifying information before sharing it with vendors tasked to help it improve software or services.
A series of privacy missteps in recent months prompted fresh concerns over the future of voice-controlled digital assistants, a growing market seen by some as the next frontier in computing.
Recently, major companies involving Google, Apple, and Amazon have admitted that more work is needed to reassure consumers that their data is protected when they use the technology.
Apple recently said it was suspending its "Siri grading" program, in which people listen to snippets of conversations to improve the voice recognition technology after The Guardian reported that the contractors were hearing about confidential medical information, criminal dealings, and even sexual encounters.
In the wake of a privacy investigation in Germany, Google announced that it would pause listening to conversations in the EU from its Google Assistant, according to reports that it may have given consumers the impression that someone is "listening" to their conversations.