Tech reviews

‘We apologise’: Tech giant Apple sorry for allowing workers to listen to Siri recordings

Tech giant Apple has apologised for allowing contractors to listen to audio recordings of customers’ Siri communications in order to grade them.

Last month the Guardian revealed contractors were tasked with grading the accuracy of the digital assistant which had overheard conversations – topics included talk about doctors appointments, drug deals and even couples having sex.

Apple said it had decided to make changes to Siri as a result of a review into the grading programme, it said in an unsigned statement to its website.

“As a result of our review, we realise we have not been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise,” Apple said.

“As we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading programme. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users.”

Apple promised three changes would be made to the way Siri operates after the system is kickstarted again.

• They will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. They will use computer-generated transcripts to improve Siri.

• Apple customers will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from audio samples of their requests.

• And finally, only Apple employees would be able to listen to the audio samples.

The company said it was committed to putting the customer at the centre of everything it did, including protecting their privacy.

“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.”

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In recent months, other voice-assistant technology systems like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant were found to keep recordings of everything they heard.


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