Recent reports reveal that Apple allows third party contractors access to a small portion of Siri recordings. Apple claims that this is for a process called ‘grading’ which aims to help improve the quality of the voice assistant. However, this news comes as a shock because Apple did not previously disclose this information in their user privacy documentation.
The news comes at a time during which Google and Amazon are also under fire for admitting that third parties have access to recordings of their voice assistants.
What do contractors do with Siri recordings?
After receiving the recordings the contractors then grade them by a number of different factors. They decide whether the query was accidental, whether Siri could help answer it and whether Siri’s response was appropriate.
A contractor revealed that Siri, albeit accidentally, at times records confidential information. This includes medical histories and even details of private business details.
The accidental recordings are triggered by different things. Such as on mobiles when the device hears the words “Hey Siri!” it starts recording. Similarly on Apple Watches when the device is raised and detects audio it too begins recording. The contractor claims the majority of the accidental recordings are from Apple Watches and the HomePod smart speaker.
He also said that they have no particular procedure to follow when faced with sensitive information. Instead they are told to get through work as fast as possible. The contractor thereby believes that the sensitivity of the data recorded requires better policies and that the company inform users about what is happening with the recordings.
In response the company made claims that less than 1% of Siri recordings are used for grading. The company also released a statement saying,
“A small portion of Siri requests are analysed to improve Siri and dictation. User requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri responses are analysed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements.”
What can you do?
If you are an active Apple user than you know that the company prides itself on its safe and secure privacy policies.Often using it as an advantage against competitors. But unlike Google and Amazon which allows users to opt out of using their recordings Apple offers no choice other than disabling Siri entirely.
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