Microsoft halts listening in to Xbox gamers

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Xbox One XImage source, Microsoft

Microsoft has said that it will stop listening in to Xbox users, saying it was "no longer necessary".

It comes after Vice news revealed that it had been recording and listening to the private conversations of gamers - many of whom were children - as far back as 2014.

Microsoft said it was done to improve voice command features on the console.

It comes amid revelations that other tech firms, such as Facebook, have also listened in to chats.

"We stopped reviewing any voice content taken through Xbox for product improvement purposes a number of months ago, as we no longer felt it was necessary, and we have no plans to restart those reviews," a spokesperson for Microsoft said in a statement.

It added: "We occasionally review a low volume of voice recordings sent from one Xbox user to another when there are reports that a recording violated our terms of service and we need to investigate. This is done to keep the Xbox community safe and is clearly stated in our Xbox terms of service."

In April, it was revealed by Bloomberg that Amazon, Google and Apple all employed staff who listen to customer voice recordings from their smart speakers and voice assistant apps.

Many customers were unaware of the practice.

It had previously been reported that Microsoft workers listened to some Skype calls as well as audio recorded by Cortana, its virtual assistant.