Skip to main content

Everything you say to Siri, Cortana and Samsung phones may be heard by a human being

1098463 autosave v1 2 google sweating siri latent search
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If you’ve tucked yourself under the sheets of ignorant bliss when it comes to your privacy while speaking to your favorite personal device, this is yet another wakeup call. A Reddit user recently shared a firsthand account of starting a new job that required her to listen to recordings of voice commands people gave to their smartphones to check for accuracy.

The user, dubbed FallenMyst on Reddit, shared her personal account in a thread called “Everything you’ve ever said to Siri/Cortana has been recorded…and I get to listen to it.” (To be fair, she also talks about listening to what people said to their Samsung Galaxy phones.) In her post, the user said she began working for a hard-to-track company called Walk N’Talk Technologies. In that role, she was asked to listen to audio recordings of people talking to their smartphones and rating how the resulting text matches up with what was actually said.

“Guys, I’m telling you, if you’ve said it to your phone, it’s been recorded…and there’s a damn good chance a 3rd party is going to hear it,” FallenMyst wrote. “I heard everything from kiddos asking innocent things like ‘Siri, do you like me?’ to some guy asking Galaxy to lick his butthole. I wish I was kidding.”

The anonymous Reddit user got this job via CrowdFlower, a data mining company. A post from Motherboard delves deeper into what this specific job entailed and even shares some of the recordings that were posted for vetting.

Apple’s iOS Software License Agreement includes this bolded note about using Siri: “By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and dictation functionality in other Apple products and services.”

Samsung’s Privacy Policy includes a note about voice recordings, which the company says it may store on their servers when you use voice commands. “Note that we work with a third-party service provider that provides speech-to-text conversion services on our behalf. This provider may receive and store certain voice commands.”

Microsoft’s privacy language for Cortana mentions that recordings are sent to Microsoft, but there are no mentions of third parties being involved. Google’s general Privacy Policy doesn’t shed much new light on the matter, and its page dedicated to voice and audio activity is more instructional in nature. However, Google allows users to listen to (and remove) their own past voice searches, which may be an exercise in embarrassment for some.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
Get an unlocked iPhone 14 Pro Max for under $900 with this deal
The iPhone 14 Pro Max next to a green pepper.

Backmarket has one of the best iPhone deals at the moment with the iPhone 14 Pro Max available for $887, reduced from $1,099. The sizeable saving is in part thanks to this particular iPhone 14 Pro Max being a refurbished model. Don't let that put you off though. When buying through Backmarket, it's a verified refurbished model that has been through many testing processes to guarantee it's in fantastic condition. It comes with a one-year warranty too along with a free 30-day return window if you're concerned. Sound good? Here's what you need to know about the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Why you should buy the iPhone 14 Pro Max
Back when it launched, we considered the iPhone 14 Pro Max to be "nearly perfect". It has a huge 6.7-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2796 x 1290. Up to 2,000 nits of brightness are possible in the right situation while there's also a 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate to ensure silky smooth browsing and scrolling.

Read more
Google just announced the Pixel Watch 2. Is it any good?
All three colors of the Google Pixel Watch 2 lined up together.

Google lifted the lid on the Google Pixel Watch 2 at a packed event that also witnessed the introduction of its Google Pixel 8 series phones. Aesthetically, barely anything has changed, which is mostly welcome because the Pixel-branded smartwatch stands out with its sloping glass design. But there are changes under the hood that actually push it ahead of the competition in a few ways.

But will all of this come together for a cohesive smartwatch? Here's everything we know so far.

Read more
The Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are official — and more expensive
Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro in pink and white.

Google has finally announced its latest smartphones, the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro. The announcement about the successors to the Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro was made today at the Made by Google event in New York City.

But were the new Pixels worth the wait? And are they worth the new higher price tag? Here's a look at what's new.

Read more