Report: Microsoft Contractors in China Listened in on Skype Conversations

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A recent report alleges that Microsoft contractors in China listened in on Skype conversations and Cortana recordings with “no security measures” taken to protect the audio clips.

The Guardian reports that an anonymous Microsoft contractor from China who was tasked with grading audio snippets from Skype and Cortana conversations has revealed that “no security measures” were put in place to protect the audio clips. The contractor claimed that the recordings which were selected to help grade and improve Microsoft’s services were accessed via a Google Chrome web app on his personal laptop.

“They just give me a login over email and I will then have access to Cortana recordings,” he told the Guardian. “I could then hypothetically share this login with anyone.” Other contractors were reportedly told to access the clips via company-issued accounts which all shared the same password. The contractor also claimed that employee vetting was practically nonexistent.

The contractor also claimed to have heard sensitive audio recordings through this system, stating: “I heard all kinds of unusual conversations, including what could have been domestic violence. It sounds a bit crazy now, after educating myself on computer security, that they gave me the URL, a username and password sent over email.”

The contractor further noted that his location in China made the recordings even more vulnerable, “Living in China, working in China, you’re already compromised with nearly everything,” he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider when asked for comment:

We review short snippets of de-identified voice data from a small percentage of customers to help improve voice-enabled features, and we sometimes engage partner companies in this work. Review snippets are typically fewer than ten seconds long and no one reviewing these snippets would have access to longer conversations.

We’ve always disclosed this to customers and operate to the highest privacy standards set out in laws like Europe’s GDPR. This past summer we carefully reviewed both the process we use and the communications with customers. As a result we updated our privacy statement to be even more clear about this work, and since then we’ve significantly enhanced the process including by moving these reviews to secure facilities in a small number of countries. We will continue to take steps to give customers greater transparency and control over how we manage their data.

Breitbart News will continue to report on the Big Tech Masters of the Universe intruding on privacy.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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