HomeWinBuzzer NewsMicrosoft Contractors Earn Measly Wage for Transcribing Cortana

Microsoft Contractors Earn Measly Wage for Transcribing Cortana

Microsoft has admitted its contractors listen to Cortana user commands, and it seems the company does not pay much for the role.


Over the last two weeks, we have followed the story of allowing third-party contractors to listen to user conversations on Skype Translator and . Contractors listen to audio to transcribe it for Microsoft, something the company says is essential for improving the services. It has now emerged the company is also underpaying these contractors.

Motherboard reported two weeks ago that Microsoft was giving contractors the ability to listen to user audio without telling users. After receiving widespread criticism, Microsoft responded. However, the company simply updated its privacy details to confirm it allows humans to listen to Cortana and Skype audio.

In other words, Microsoft admits its practice but refused to stop allowing it. What's interesting about this whole episode is that it was one of Microsoft's contractors that broker the story. Why would a contractor spill the beans on Redmond?

Well, it seems Microsoft's hardly paying its contractors a lot of money for their time. Motherboard says contractors are earning between $12 and $14 per hour when transcribing and classifying Cortana voice commands. Transcriptions are taken from email queries, events, home automation, control, and internet searches.

Contractors must move through 200 classifications each hour, so this is a lot of work averaging three a minute.

Microsoft's Listening

One contractor previously told Motherboard the fact they have permission and the ability to listen to users shows “how lax things are in terms of protecting user data”.

While not wanting to be named, the contractor says personal communications are often heard. They cite “phone sex” as common when reviewing audio, as well as users entering personal information such as their address into Cortana.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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