In another not-really-shocking display of recordings from our personal devices being pored over by contractors, now it appears that Microsoft contractors have been listening to voice recordings taken by Xbox Ones.
Motherboard reports that this is a practice that's been going on since the Xbox One's infancy, ever since it utilized the Kinect camera, and apparently continued long after Microsoft implemented Cortana. Speaking to contractors who had access to these recordings, Motherboard confirmed many recordings were of people making intentional commands for the console, while others are simply on accident.
Microsoft has confirmed it has had workers screen recordings from programs like Skype and Cortana in the past in a bid to improve its voice recognition capabilities on both systems.
We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors,” the company said in a statement to Motherboard. With Cortana on the verge of being removed by Microsoft front he console, it's interesting to think that these recordings have been going on the entire time with many customers not realizing they were signing up for such a thing.
In response, Microsoft has noted that it will offer "greater clarity" to its practices going forward.
“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,” said Microsoft. “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.”
Microsoft did not indicate it would be ceasing current practices after providing the above statement, so it's wise to assume you're probably being listened to at some point or another if you use Cortana or other voice recordings on the system.