Apple announced Wednesday they restructured how they store and use Siri data obtained from users’ devices. Noting they believe “privacy is a fundamental human right,” the company said they would be abandoning the retention of Siri audio and develop an opt-in process for those who do not mind their interactions being used to improve the virtual assistant tech.
This past weekend, Sputnik reported on an Irish Examiner interview with a former Apple contractor who revealed that those tasked with grading the performance of Siri’s responses listened in to private conversations, including “discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings [and] sexual encounters.”
The anonymous individual noted that those hired by Apple to do this “human grading” listened to approximately 1,000 Siri command records during each shift.
“These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data,” the former contractor claimed.
However, back in July, Apple claimed that “user requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID” after another contractor revealed similar company details to The Guardian.
“As a result of our review, we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize,” the tech giant said Wednesday.
While the company’s human grading process is currently suspended, Apple intends on resuming the program in the fall after future software updates. According to the release, customers will now be able to opt-in to have their Siri audio files pulled for grading.
Additionally, Apple employees will be the ones examining the data to improve on the virtual assistant’s reliability.
As a result, hundreds of contractors have been laid off across Europe - with over 300 fired in Cork, Ireland, in particular, according to The Guardian. Workers received just a one-week notice.
Apple’s recent policy changes to Siri follow in the footsteps of Google’s Assistant, which now provides a way for users to opt out of human review and also analyze your voice request history.