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Humans may have been listening to you via your Xbox – Naked Security

Security Watch

Humans may have been listening to you via your Xbox – Naked Security


Microsoft has (once again) joined the “our contractors are listening to your audio clips” club: up until a few months ago, your Xbox may have been listening to you and passing those clips on to human contractors, Vice’s Motherboard reported on Wednesday.

Like all the other revelations about tech giants getting their contractors and employees to listen in to voice assistant recordings – they’ve been coming at a steady clip since April – the purpose is once again to improve a device’s voice recognition.

Another similarity to earlier voice assistant news: Xbox audio is supposed to be captured following a voice command, such as “Xbox” or “Hey Cortana,” but contractors told Motherboard that the recordings are sometimes triggered and recorded by mistake. That’s the same thing that’s been happening with Siri: as we found out in July, Apple’s voice assistant is getting triggered accidentally by ambient sounds similar to its wake words, “Hey, Siri,” including the noise of a zipper.

This is Microsoft’s second eavesdropping headline this month: a few weeks ago we reported that humans listen to Skype calls made using the app’s translation function, as well as to clips recorded by Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant.

Can anybody NOT hear me?

Also earlier this month, thanks to whistleblowers who were disturbed by the ethical ramifications, we found out that Facebook has been collecting some voice chats on Messenger and paying contractors to listen to and transcribe them.

They were all doing it: Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.