Private telephone conversations between thousands of Dutch nationals have ended up in the hands of an Australian software company, the Volkskrant said on Friday.
The conversations were recorded in 2010 and 2011 and the only explanation, telecom experts told the paper, is that they were recorded by British spy service GCHQ. The information was then probably handed over to the Australian company Appen with the aim of improving software for converting speech into text, the paper said.
The Volkskrant was contacted by a Dutch national who worked for Appen in Britain in 2011. As part of her job, she was required to describe thousands of audio fragments featuring ordinary Dutch people on the phone.
Many of the calls were between taxi drivers in The Hague but in one call she heard her ex-boyfriend’s voice. He used Vodafone and had not given permission for the company to share his conversations with anyone.
The Volkskrant says it has email and other evidence to back up the woman’s claim.
Appen is a technology company that develops software for converting speech into text.
Vodafone told the Volkskrant it did not ‘collaborate’ with Appen. Appen said in a statement if it does collect data, it does so with the permission of ‘participants’. The company said it does not collaborate with ‘telecom companies’, but declined to answer the question whether this also applies to law enforcement agencies.
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