Microsoft entrepreneurs have been listening to voice recordings captured by the Xbox One console, according to Motherboard . The practice goes back to the early days of the Xbox One when it could be controlled with voice commands directed to the Kinect camera accessory, and it continued after Microsoft added its more advanced Cortana voice assistant to the console.
Motherboard talked to several entrepreneurs who could listen to these Xbox recordings. Many of them were intentional, with users ordering the Xbox One to perform a certain function, but others were triggered by mistake by ignorant customers.
Microsoft has already confirmed that entrepreneurs have similarly shown voice recordings from Cortana (on Windows) and listened to Skype calls when people were using the app's language translation. In any case, Microsoft has said that it does this in order to improve its services and voice recognition. "We have long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-activated services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by providers," the company told Motherboard .
Some of these entrepreneurs Motherboard talked about the fact that they often heard children's voices, which is worrying but not surprising as we are talking about a game console. Nevertheless, privacy regulations that apply to children are stricter than for adults.
Microsoft announced last month that it plans to remove Cortana from the Xbox One; the console can still be controlled through voice commands with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant on external smart speakers or other devices.
In recent weeks, other major tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Google, have been criticizing similar reviews of voice recordings for entrepreneur / employee recordings for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, respectively. When customers encounter the idea of hearing their call from a stranger ̵
Microsoft has not paused its current practice, but it says it is also trying to offer "greater clarity" to consumers. "We always get customer permission before we collect voting data, we take steps to de-identify voting extracts that are reviewed to protect people's integrity and we require that this information be handled in accordance with the highest privacy standards in the law," the company told the motherboard . "At the same time, we are actively working on additional measures we can take to give customers more transparency and control over how their data is used to improve products."
The Verge has reached Microsoft for more information on the situation.