“Tech companies have been reviewing their practices in light of privacy concerns. There’s greater concern when humans are involved because of the potential for rogue employees or contractors to leak private details embedded in the voice commands.
When Facebook starts selling a new version of its Portal video-calling gadget next month, the company will resume using humans to review voice interactions with the device. Users will be able to decline, or opt out. People on existing devices will get a notification pointing them to the appropriate settings. New Portal users will get the option when setting up.
Human reviews involving Facebook’s Messenger app elsewhere remain suspended as Facebook re-examines the privacy implications.
Google is also restarting the practice of reviewing voice commands to improve its digital assistant, though it’s now making it clear human transcribers might listen to recordings. The company also said it will delete most recordings after a few months, and people can review their recordings and delete them manually at any time.
Apple, which suspended the practice with Siri, also plans to resume it this fall, but only after getting explicit permission. Apple would not say how it will seek permission.
As with Amazon, Microsoft didn’t suspend the use of human reviewers. In response to concerns, Microsoft added language in its frequently asked questions for Skype to say that using the translation service “may include transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors.”
I think this is a step in the right direction concerns the issue of privacy on these types of apps used by well-known companies.