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Data Privacy: Who is listening to your private conversations?

Article By Brendan Cole | | Technology Consulting

Digital assistants such as Siri and Cortana are becoming increasingly convenient to use as the platforms mature. Many were led to believe this was through the power of Artificial Intelligence, but recent announcements from Facebook and Microsoft showed that’s not entirely the case.

A great deal of buzz around privacy of online voice-based systems was generated earlier this month, after Facebook admitted it utilised third-party contractors to listen to and transcribe voice data in its Messenger service.

Shortly after this, Microsoft came out and updated its company-wide privacy policy, clarifying that its employees have access to, and review voice data collected from its digital assistant Cortana, as well as its messaging service Skype.

While Facebook has claimed to have ceased its practice of allowing humans access to voice messages in Messenger, Microsoft instead took the approach of making users aware they were doing so.

Other tech giants have also been under investigation on this practice, with EU regulators also looking into how Apple and Google handle their users’ voice data.

Upon questioning, Facebook clarified that only users who had “opted in” were having voice messages being accessed. However, this reveals the flaw with cases such as these: This opt in was a simple “Turn on Voice to Text in this chat?” prompt, with only a Yes/No response.

Vague agreements such as these can very quickly sign away your privacy and should always be given scrutiny before agreeing. All tech giants currently under investigation have similar privacy consents, and more often than not they will only include the bare minimum of insight into how your data will be handled.

Privacy check-ups are readily available from all of these providers mentioned, and they can give an overview into how much of your data is being collected. While the wording will typically paint this collection in a positive light, it’s important to remember that by “analysing data to improve their services,” a stranger could be on the other side of the screen going through your information.

This check-up will take care of your personal data privacy, but only a full systems audit from the Altitude Innovations Team will tell you how securely your business data is being stored, so get in touch with them today to schedule one without delay.