The Redmond company Microsoft has recorded many conversations between users of the Skype communication service and sent them to employees in China for evaluation. Hardly any emphasis was placed on data protection. The transmissions were unencrypted.

As the Guardian reports, a former Microsoft employee has revealed how the sound recordings collected were evaluated. It was already known that Microsoft saved recordings from Skype phone calls and conversations with the digital voice assistant Cortana. The evaluation is intended to improve the quality of the services.

The data is said to have been sent to employees in China via a simple web application in the Chrome browser. No security measures were taken. The recordings have not been encrypted. The access data for the web application was communicated in plain text via email. The evaluation could also be carried out with private notebooks. There were no special requirements for newly recruited employees.
Infographic: Ten years of video calls with SkypeTen years of video calls with Skype

The practice has since been changed
Microsoft has commented on the allegations and emphasized that the relevant program has now been discontinued. The talks are no longer evaluated in China. Nevertheless, sound recordings with a length of up to ten seconds are still recorded. From now on, the evaluation should only be carried out by “trained personnel” who are located exclusively outside of China.

When evaluating data protection standards, such as the European GDPR, should now be observed. According to Microsoft, the sound recordings cannot be assigned to a specific person and are now transmitted in encrypted form. Those who are not convinced of this have the option of switching to alternatives such as Discord or TeamSpeak


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