;widows: 2;-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;text-decoration-style: initial;text-decoration-color: initial;word-spacing:0px’>The company admitted in its privacy policy that it would “analyze audio” of calls, but it did not spell out the possibility of un-vetted contractors halfway around the world accessing that audio over insecure internet connections – often in the comfort of their own homes, according to the former contractor, who claims to have heard “all kinds of unusual conversations, including what could have been domestic violence.” Cortana is often triggered accidentally, meaning some recordings are made without the user’s knowledge.

Like Apple and Google before it, Microsoft now claims it has ended its human grading program for Skype and Cortana for Xbox. The remaining audio reviewers have been relocated to “secure facilities,” which Microsoft was careful to point out are not located in China.

“We review short snippets of de-identified voice data from a small percentage of customers to help improve voice-enabled features,” Microsoft said in a statement in defense of its practices, acknowledging that “we sometimes engage partner companies in this work.” The snippets, it maintained, are “typically fewer than ten seconds long” and not linked to longer conversations.

The massive security lapse doesn’t speak well of Microsoft’s security software, particularly the Pentagon-backed “ElectionGuard” that will supposedly be guarding Americans’ votes from malicious interference in November.