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Apple suspends program that allowed employees to listen to Siri recordings

Whistleblower said Apple regularly heard recordings of drug deals and people having sex.


Mikael Thalen


Apple has suspended a program that allowed its employees to listen to recordings of customers gathered by its voice assistant Siri.

The announcement comes after a report in The Guardian last week alleged that workers regularly heard private information when listening to recordings. The employees were involved in what Apple calls “grading,” a process used to determine the accuracy of Siri’s voice recognition capabilities.

An anonymous contractor involved in the work said hearing “confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex” was a normal occurrence.

Apple responded by explaining that the recordings are not attached to their owners’ identities and that only 1 percent of daily Siri requests are heard by employees. Nonetheless, Apple says the program will be shut down for now while it carries out a review.

“We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy,” Apple said in a statement. “While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally.”

The tech company also plans to issue an update in the future that will let customers choose whether they want their voice recordings to be involved in the grading process.

Google and Amazon similarly analyze recordings from their own voice assistants but offer a way for users to easily delete them. And while Siri recordings can be deleted as well, the process is much more cumbersome.

Google also suspended its own grading program in Europe on Wednesday after a contractor leaked over 1,000 Google Assistant voice recordings to a Belgian news site.


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The Daily Dot