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Microsoft is using contractors to listen to your kids via the Xbox One

Today in “companies listening to you without your knowledge when you use voice commands” news, it turns out even users of Microsoft’s humble Xbox One are being listened to, as well.

Motherboard has spoken to a number of Microsoft contractors who have confirmed that they were hired by the tech giant to review Xbox and Cortana voice commands in a bid to improve the technology. Microsoft isn’t the only one, of course: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have all been caught out over the last few weeks for having contractors listen to recordings to improve voice command accuracy. 

Thankfully, you’re less likely to be caught having sex or talking about your personal information with the Xbox voice commands, merely because the Xbox is on less often, but that doesn’t make the whole thing less unpleasant for users that might have been listened to when they weren’t expecting it.

Still, if you want creepy, one contractor did tell Motherboard that most of the voices that they were listening to were children which is… well, it’s a bad look for Microsoft, even when you think you’ve heard all there is to hear about contractors listening in to you. 

The reason you’re being spied on is to try and improve voice command technology. This happened soon after Motherboard also reported about Microsoft hiring contractors for the purpose of listening to Skype recordings. However, this has caused a lot of consternation because human involvement in the process wasn’t well communicated ahead of time, meaning most people have only started to be aware that they’re being listen to now, after they’ve dropped cash on these products and have been using them for several months. 

Since reports broke, Apple, Google and Facebook have suspended the process of using human contractors, while Amazon has offered users the option to opt-out. Microsoft, meanwhile, has updated its privacy policy to specify that it processes information with both automated and human methods of processing.

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