Brazilian government wants Facebook to explain wiretapping on Messenger

Linked to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the National Consumer Secretariat (Senacon) notified the Facebook last Wednesday (15). The agency wants the company to explain the revelation that employees were listening to users’ voice messages on Facebook Messenger.

Facebook Messenger

According to the Bloomberg, hundreds of employees of the outsourced company TaskUs received voice messages transmitted via Messenger to make transcriptions. Basically, the objective was to verify that the transcriptions carried out via artificial intelligence were correct.

The problem is that Facebook had never made it clear that voice conversations could be overheard by others. In addition, this practice can cause sensitive user information to end up in the wrong hands.

Because of this, Senacon wants to find out if listening to conversations has also involved Brazilian users. If there is evidence of violation of privacy rights or if Facebook does not respond to the questionnaire within ten calendar days after notification, the company may be subject to an administrative proceeding.

Depending on the results of the investigation, Facebook may have to sign a conduct adjustment term or, in a more extreme scenario, pay a fine of up to R $ 9 million.

Europe also asks Facebook for explanations

Of course, requests for clarification would not be limited to the Brazilian government. In Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) also asked Facebook for details about the case. The agency believes that the company may have violated the privacy conditions imposed by the GDPR.


So far, the only statement given by Facebook on the wiretaps is this: “just like the Apple it’s the Google, we stopped human audio analysis for more than a week ”.

When mentioning the two companies, Facebook refers to two similar cases: Apple hired outsourced employees to listen to voice recordings directed to Siri; in Belgium and Holland, a similar practice occurred with Google Assistant recordings. After the complaints, Apple and Google suspended listening.

It doesn’t end there. Alexa recordings are also heard by third parties; Amazon has created an option to prevent listening to these audios. The Microsoft adopts the same wiretapping practice on Skype Translator and Cortana commands, but stated to the Motherboard who “gets permission from customers before collecting and using their voice data”.

With information: Estadão, Agency Brazil, TechCrunch.

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