Feed all these voice things some Professor Stanley Unwin.
Friends, it's fine. Don't worry about randomers listening to your Skype convos. Microsoft has tweaked an FAQ a bit
Thursday 15th August 2019 11:57 GMT Julz
Is it only me that thinks that, unless you are talking face to face with someone, on a walk, on a route you normally don't use, with loads of background noise, you shouldn't have any real expectation that somebody else might not be listening in. Even then, given that you both haven't changed all you clothes, it still likely to be compromised, but probably only by state actors, in which case all bets are off anyway.
Now I know that this is different in scale, in the fact that it's potentially in your house and that it is being sold as being a private service, however that can be, given it's running over public circuits and being processed god knows where. But, in the days of yore, I'm sure The Post Office, also insisted that it's operators didn't listen in and that no amount of bullying from their paymasters, could persuade them to tap a line...
Privacy has always been an illusion.
Thursday 15th August 2019 12:28 GMT Ben Tasker
Re: Old Codger
> you shouldn't have any real expectation that somebody else might not be listening in.
I don't think you should have any expectation, no, but I also don't think that means you forgoe the right to complain loudly when someone is found to be listening in, particularly when it seems to be happening routinely.
In other words, you should conduct yourself as though someone were listening in, but raise holy fucking hell when you catch them doing so.
The ability to listen in is a position of power, and it's the complaints and repurcussions that are used to dissuade people from misusing that power. Every time you quietly accept it, you're one step closer to getting adverts for dildos because your old lady didn't sound too in to your dirty phone call.
Thursday 15th August 2019 14:26 GMT Lee D
Re: Old Codger
Same as network security:
But don't let people sniff the entire network (or BGP route it through their country) anyway.
Google learned that lesson the hard way with their intra-data-centre communications being sniffed by certain agencies.
Privacy is not about "did someone find it out". That's secrecy.
Privacy is about "did someone actually have the right to be listening indiscriminately to everything".
Thursday 15th August 2019 12:33 GMT Just Enough
Re: Old Codger
Yes, it is just you. Most people have conversations that aren't of much interest to state actors. Your life may be different, but most conversations I have in a closed room are in the real expectation that they probably aren't been listened to. I almost never make arrangements to meet someone in a busy park, with a code word and background noise for cover. I've never, ever changed clothes to sweep them for bugging devices.
Is it your career in international espionage that makes you think differently?
Thursday 15th August 2019 12:41 GMT Drew Scriver
Re: Old Codger
There's a difference between having no reasonable expectation of privacy and being reasonably sure that you can (and will) be recorded.
Remember Google Glasses? We used to kick the early adopters out of our cubicles and meetings. Now you have to worry about having any kind of private conversation by everyday devices.
Visit your doctor, therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist? Better turn off your phone and make sure they do the same - and leave that 'smart' watch outside.
Invite people over for dinner? Make sure they leave their devices in the "privacy box" at the front door or simply don't have any meaningful conversations.
Visit other people? Look around for Echo Dots, Google Home Device, and all the others. And don't forget to check the light bulbs.
Saddest thing is that people tend to get upset if you're concerned about their spy gadgets.
I've said it before: smart is singular. Either the device is smart, or you. Not both. The choice is yours.
Thursday 15th August 2019 14:09 GMT MrBanana
Thursday 15th August 2019 11:59 GMT Artem S Tashkinov
Thursday 15th August 2019 12:41 GMT Franco
More than 3 people talk to Cortana, in fact more than 3 just in my office. Admittedly this is just whilst building laptops via Autopilot, and the comment every time is "shut up you harridan" or something rather less polite.
I don't get the obsession with these voice assistants though, I was given an Echo Dot and really only use it as a timer in the kitchen or sometimes for music, and the dozy bint always suggests music I'd have to pay for, rather than have already bought, so spends most of her time switched off.
Thursday 15th August 2019 14:58 GMT Anonymous Coward
Left an install to run overnight.
I got the fright of my life wondering who this woman was who broke into my house and was asking how I was doing and if I wanted to turn the lights on... or something like that, I was asleep and a little groggy.
When I got downstairs, the laptop was talking... and I quickly muted it and went back to sleep.
Thursday 15th August 2019 12:51 GMT Dan 55
Most people understand that telephone services and VoIP services which have got extremely popular can be intercepted by court order or the intelligence services, but also having outsourced low-wage gnomes listening in to your VoIP calls because the provider's speech recognition software is having problems parsing your call would have been unthinkable five years ago... Or at least I think it would have been.
Thursday 15th August 2019 13:23 GMT Anonymous Coward
Didn't Skype used to have end to end encryption to stop man in the middle stuff like this? It's a bit worrying that suddenly all that data is available. Or does the data come from the end users computer, in which case surely that would count as unlawful surveillance? Considering NOBODY was aware this was happening the Ts & Cs are irrelevant, people weren't aware they were being surveilled in their own homes.
Thursday 15th August 2019 15:33 GMT LDS
As they can collect sensitive data without the specific permission....
... I still fail how could it stands GDPR scrutiny.
Sensitive data are:
"The following personal data is considered ‘sensitive’ and is subject to specific processing conditions:
personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs;
genetic data, biometric data processed solely to identify a human being;
data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation."
All data that can be collected while eavesdropping conversations, and could be very hard to anonymize.
MS attempts to "improve customer experience" doesn't meet the "specific processing conditions" required. See for example https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/lawful-basis-for-processing/special-category-data/
Thursday 15th August 2019 16:54 GMT Anonymous Coward
Thursday 15th August 2019 17:07 GMT Ben Tasker
What gadgets? This applies to people making Skype calls as much as it does someone talking to Cortana.
Ever made a Skype call? Then by your measure you're as much an idiot as the majority of people who'd be affected by this. Though they'd probably have managed to finish reading the headline
Thursday 15th August 2019 23:20 GMT jake
"This applies to people making Skype calls as much as it does someone talking to Cortana."
Yes. Your point?
"Ever made a Skype call?"
Once or twice. In the early days, before Redmond bought it. When it did peer to peer, and offered end to end encryption. Now? I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, not even if encouraged to do so by a very large czech ...
Friday 16th August 2019 11:47 GMT Ben Tasker
> Yes. Your point?
The OP said the idiots who bought "these gadgets" deserved it.
Given that this affects Skype, the gadgets that Skype runs on includes generic laptops, phones, desktops etc.
So, my point, is, the OP is a complete prat incapable of parsing one of the Reg's simpler headlines.
Thursday 15th August 2019 18:14 GMT Barrie Shepherd
How long before AI 'translation' morphs into transcription and textual copies of conversations get sent off to 5 eyes? I suspect it's far easier for text to be analysed at high speed than audio.
I thought Sype was supposed to be encrypted anyway so how are they listening in? Or is it that they are conveniently in the middle? Now we know why Skype peer to peer had to be killed.
(puts tin-foil hat back on)
Thursday 15th August 2019 18:38 GMT fidodogbreath
Thursday 15th August 2019 18:50 GMT fidodogbreath
the average user is unlikely to be aware that Microsoft's goons could be listening in to sexy Skype chats or fruitless yelling at Cortana. And that user does not currently have a way to easily opt out.
1. Windows menu > Settings > Cortana > Talk to Cortana
2. Turn off everything that can be turned off.
3. Cortana > Permissions & History > Manage the information Cortana can see from this device
4. Turn off everything that can be turned off.
5. Settings > Apps > Apps & Features > left-click Skype > Uninstall.
6. Restart, just to be sure.
Lots of clicks, but it should get the job done. At least, until the next "feature update" puts everything back to Full Slurp.
Friday 16th August 2019 08:53 GMT amanfromMars 1