Apple issued a rare apology for allowing contractors to listen to Siri recordings and announced Wednesday they won’t be listening in on your Siri conversations by default anymore.
Apple halted the program designed to improve the quality of Siri’s responses after The Guardian reported that contractors overheard recordings that sometimes included couples having sex, discussions of private medical information, and even drug deals. In Wednesday’s announcement, Apple said that by default, it wouldn’t retain Siri audio interactions anymore — though it will continue to keep computer-generated transcripts with the goal of improving Siri.
“As a result of our review, we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize,” Apple said in the statement.
The company added, “We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process — which we call grading. We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests and began a thorough review of our practices and policies.”
Apple users will be able to opt-in if they want to help with the improvement of Siri, which means that strictly in-house Apple employees will be allowed to listen to your recordings of Siri interaction. Users will also be able to opt-out of this feature at any time.
Apple said it is continually working to improve Siri technology, and that it reviewed less than .2% of Siri requests as part of its quality control, or “grading” program.
“We created Siri to help them get things done, faster and easier, without compromising their right to privacy. We are grateful to our users for their passion for Siri, and for pushing us to constantly improve,” Apple said.
Like Apple, Amazon also uses humans to analyze recordings of its Alexa assistant. Amazon suspended its grading program after the news of Apple’s program broke. You can now disable human reviews of your Amazon Alexa recordings.
Google also reportedly used third-party contractors to transcribe Google Assistant commands, according to a July report by Belgian’s VRT NWS. Earlier this month, Google confirmed to ArsTechnica that they paused the reviews of their Google Assistant globally.
Even Facebook admitted that it was listening to and transcribing Facebook Messenger audio chats earlier this month. The social media giant confirmed to Bloomberg that they have also paused human review.
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