SpinVox, one of the big names in white label voicemail transcription services for carriers, could be in trouble as it has come to light that at least some voicemails are transcribed thanks to human ears in the Phillipines and South Africa. The company claims that some non-live listening is required to build the automated algorithms that handle other transcriptions, but they refuse to state exactly how many operations are handled by human versus machines. One call centre employee claims that the entire service is run by people listening in on live calls. The legal implications for such an operation are sizeable, as SpinVox is based in the UK and must abide by European Union data protection laws. Privacy issues, however, will do more harm to SpinVox’s image that call down the legal thunder.
In a statement, the ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office] explained there was nothing to prevent Spinvox from using people rather than machines to translate messages. However, it said that “it may be helpful if the company is clearer about the likelihood that people will be used to translate messages”. “This is particularly important if customers are using the service for transmitting sensitive or secure information,” it added.
Listening to how an employee described the calls made it sound like an interesting day at the office, privacy qualms aside…
“We heard the message from the very beginning to the very end. Love messages, secret messages, messages with sexual content, even people threatening to kill each other.”