Spinvox fights back in voice message row

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Voice messaging system Spinvox has responded to allegations that its much touted voice-to-text technology isn't doing the bulk of its transcription work.

A BBC news story and blog post yesterday accused the firm of relying on human transcription based at overseas call centres.

While Spinvox has always said its tech uses some human help, the suggestion that most of the work is not done by its computer systems rather tarnishes the UK tech success story. And, if those call centres are based overseas, there could also be data security issues.

In a blog post, Spinvox said such claims were "incorrect and inaccurate".

Spinvox said most of its transcription work was indeed done by its "state of the art" Voice Message Conversion System (VMCS), disputing claims that the majority of messages were transcribed by call centre staff in South Africa and the Philippines.

"One of the key technology breakthroughs applied within VMCS enables it to know what it doesn't know'," Spinvox explained. "VMCS can then refer a message to a human for assistance as required."

Spinvox said it has just a few hundred such call centre workers for each "market" it operates in and claimed any messages sent to call centres are anonymous and secure.

Data security

The firm stressed that all its data was held within secure facilities in the UK, but admitted quality control "partners" are located inside and outside of Europe.

Spinvox limits where customer data goes based on phone companies' requirements, however no UK carrier has yet to sign up with the firm - all the UK accounts are free, with text conversions paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis. It is not against the Data Protection Act to take data outside of Europe, so Spinvox isn't breaking any laws.

However, the BBC report did claim that Spinvox was registered as keeping its data inside the UK. That said, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said this is merely an issue of updating the register.

The ICO said in a statement: "We will be contacting the company to ensure that its entry on the data protection register is both accurate and complete, especially with regards to the transfer of personal data outside the European Economic Area."

Spinvox took umbrage to the security claims, explaining that it has two ISO qualifications. "SpinVox takes security extremely seriously and ensuring the protection of data is core to the SpinVox ethos. To date, SpinVox has successfully managed millions of conversions, and has no history of breach of security," the firm said.