Microsoft and China listen in to your Skype Calls.


Microsoft listened to Skype calls with no security to protect recordings, report says. A Microsoft effort to improve Skype calls and the Cortana virtual assistant by listening in on user interactions reportedly had no security measures in place to protect data. Contract workers in China were able to access recordings via a web app from personal computers in their homes, according to a Friday report in The Guardian.

An unnamed former contractor told the publication he reviewed thousands of recordings on his personal laptop from his home in Beijing over the two years he worked for Microsoft. The recordings included deliberate and accidental Cortana activations as well as some Skype calls, according to The Guardian. Workers were reportedly given no cybersecurity help, and usernames and passwords to access recordings were emailed to new contractors in plain text.

Microsoft has human workers listen to “short snippets” of voice conversations to improve services like Skype and Cortana, media reports revealed this past summer. And it’s not just Microsoft. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and others all had similar programs in place.

The industry practice raised privacy concerns from consumers about how their voices and data were being used. Some of the companies have since made changes to their programs, including letting people opt out of audio reviews.