Apple publicly addressed the revelations that contractors were able to hear Siri recordings, including those that were accidental activations and contained highly personal information, by saying: “We realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize.”
Apple then went on to say that this Siri grading program, which is currently paused, will continue in the fall with the following changes:
- By default, Apple will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions and will use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.
- Users will be able to opt-in to Siri grading which will now be conducted by Apple employees instead of contractors. These users can opt-out at any time.
- Apple will work to delete any recordings of accidental Siri activations.
The news of these changes follows reports that Apple has laid off at least 300 contractors from across Europe who were hired to listen to Siri recordings.
The changes mean that Siri grading should now be more private although Apple’s statement suggests that it will still receive computer-generated transcripts of some Siri recordings and that there’s no opt-out option for this.
This announcement from Apple follows many other tech giants being caught sending audio recordings to third-party contractors and then either suspending the programs or allowing users to opt-out.
The revelations that these big tech companies were sending recordings to third-party contractors have started to generated lawsuits and investigations. Yesterday it was reported that Hamburg’s data protection authority is currently investigating Facebook over its transcription of user’s audio messages. And earlier this month, Apple was sued for violating California privacy laws by recording Siri conversations without user consent.