Microsoft contractors listened to Xbox gamers’ voice commands

Contractors employed by Microsoft listened to audio footage of Xbox users who used the console’s voice command feature, Motherboard reports.

According to the report, the reason that contractors listened to these audio snippets was to improve Microsoft’s products.

“Xbox commands came up first as a bit of an outlier and then became about half of what we did before becoming most of what we did,” said one former contractor.

The contractor, who worked on Xbox audio data from 2014 to 2015, said that most of the voices they heard were those of children.

“The Xbox stuff was actually a bit of a welcome respite, honestly. It was frequently the same games. Same DLCs. Same types of commands,” said the contractor.

A different, currently-employed contractor showed Motherboard a document which outlines how workers should interact with different types of Cortana audio.

Microsoft removed Cortana from Xbox in July, but the voice assistant can still be used through the console via apps on Android and iOS.

“We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

“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.”

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Microsoft contractors listened to Xbox gamers’ voice commands