Xbox, invade my privacy.
Microsoft Cortana

According to multiple sources speaking with Vice, Microsoft had hired contractors to listen to audio picked up and recorded by Xbox One consoles.

Reportedly, human listeners, the contractors in this case, were brought into the mix in an effort to improve how the Xbox One understood voice commands. However, these contractors say that their jobs also saw them listening to the audio of multiple personal conversations in cases where the assistant was unintentionally triggered on the Xbox One.

Anybody that has a home assistant like a Google Home or Echo from Amazon are probably well aware of these devices accidentally thinking you called upon them to do your bidding. Hell, these things are sometimes triggered by whatever you're watching on TV. The Xbox One and Cortana are certainly no exception to this.

The act of listening to commands and voice recordings is not new to Microsoft. They have been criticized numerous times in the past for breaching the privacy of their consumers. The latest incident, prior to this Xbox One issue, came to light literally this month when it was discovered Microsoft was listening to portions of your Skype calls and interactions with the Cortana virtual assistant. Microsoft confirmed the report and said that the disclosure came in an update to their privacy policy.

Going back to this Xbox One privacy issue, the sources speaking with Vice said that Microsoft has been using humans to listen to recordings since at least 2014. They were used to ensure that the audio was being transcribed correctly and that the system was given the correct response or doing the correct action.

At least one contractor said that most of the voices they heard were of children.

Most of the Xbox audio that was processed in this system was taken from deliberate user interactions with the Xbox or Cortana. This includes the usual "Xbox on" commands or asking Xbox to download something. This is in comparison to a lot of the Skype and Cortana interactions from other platforms that "could clearly be described as phone sex."

Microsoft says that the audio is only accessible through a secure online portal. They also claim that the audio has no identifying information. However, Microsoft has job listings for several "work-from-home" contractor positions. It may not be a stretch to encounter a situation where your private conversation was unknowingly recorded, sent to this system, and potentially leaked by someone working from home.

"I generally feel like that while we do not have access to user identifiable information, that if Microsoft users were aware that random people sitting at home in their pajamas who could be joking online with friends about the stuff they just heard that they wouldn't like that," a contractor said.