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Microsoft Cognitive Services

Tap into the power of machine learning with easy-to-use REST APIs

Make your applications more intelligent, engaging, and discoverable

Microsoft Cognitive Services is a collection of Representational State Transfer (RESTful) intelligent application program interfaces (APIs) that allow systems to see, hear, speak, understand, and interpret people’s needs by using natural methods of communication. Developers can use these APIs to make their applications more intelligent, engaging, and discoverable.

With Cognitive Services, developers can easily add intelligent features—such as emotion and sentiment detection, vision and speech recognition, knowledge, search, and language understanding—into their applications. The collection of APIs will continuously expand, adding new APIs and improving existing ones.

Learn more about Cognitive Services

Data that is sent to the Cognitive Services is treated differently than other customer data. Microsoft may use Cognitive Services data to improve Microsoft products and services. For example, we may use content that you provide to the Cognitive Services to improve our underlying algorithms and models over time. To do that, we may retain Cognitive Services data after you are no longer using the services. Further information is provided on this page and the Cognitive Services section of the Online Services Terms.

An important note about GDPR and Microsoft Cognitive Services: Microsoft Cognitive Services are committed to GDPR compliance across our cloud services when enforcement begins on May 25, 2018.

Microsoft understands that when you invest in a cloud service, you must be able to trust that your data is safe, and that data privacy is protected. We have broad experience running enterprise online services, and we’ve made major investments in foundational processes and technologies that build security and privacy into development and operations. We’ve also implemented industry-leading security measures and monitoring controls to detect and respond to security issues.

Cognitive Services are built on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, and take advantage of its robust set of security technologies and practices. Cognitive Services protect your APIs and models by extending your Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) services in your Azure subscription to manage access to your APIs and your custom-created AI models.

Cognitive Services are not yet in scope for Microsoft enterprise cloud services that require regulatory compliance certification and attestation. Microsoft will continue to evaluate the need to apply for independent compliance certification and attestation for Cognitive Services.

For more than two decades, the Microsoft approach to privacy and data protection has been grounded in our commitment to organizations’ ownership of and control over the collection, use, and distribution of their customer data. With Cognitive Services, we offer several robust privacy safeguards and service-specific data handling practices, including: data access, de-identification, administrative controls, Microsoft privacy statement, and cognitive services data.

Data access

We take strong measures to protect your data from unauthorized access and use. This includes restricting access by Microsoft personnel and subcontractors, and carefully defining requirements for responding to government requests for customer data. When government or law enforcement request access to your data—including for national security purposes—they must follow applicable legal processes, such as serving us with a court order for content or a subpoena for account information. We do not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to your data except as you direct or where required by law.


Microsoft has implemented business and technical measures designed to help de-identify some data Cognitive Services retain. De-identification will not anonymize data completely and certain types of data are inherently more identifiable. For example, even if Cognitive Services takes no steps to link a photograph back to an individual end user of an organization or developer that subscribes to the Cognitive Services, the photograph may feature a recognizable image of a person. We may retain an identifier of that organization or developer.

Administrative controls

To help ensure that customers have choices about and control over their data, customers can choose to turn Cognitive Services on or off for their subscriptions. Cognitive Services are disabled by default for your subscriptions.

Microsoft Privacy Statement

The Microsoft Privacy Statement applies to your use of Cognitive Services, except that the Microsoft Online Service Terms applicable to your use of the Cognitive Services control to the extent that they conflict with the Microsoft Privacy Statement.

View Privacy Statement

Cognitive Services data

Cognitive Services collect and use many types of data, such as images, audio files, video files, or text, all of which may be retained by Microsoft indefinitely to improve Microsoft products and services, without a means for you to access or delete that retained data. Unless otherwise stated in documentation for a particular service, these services provide no means for you to store, access, extract, or delete customer data.

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