Apple apologises and will no longer keep Siri recordings

  • Apple has apologised for keeping audio recordings of interactions between voice assistant Siri and customers.

    They have stated that they it will not continue this practice.

    The announcement follows criticism of Apple Inc. and other tech giants including Google and Amazon, for employing human contractors to listen to recordings of user interactions with voice assistants in a bid to improve the product.  

    This process is known as “grading” but Apple suspended the programme a few weeks ago amid rising complaints and increasing customer concerns.

    The tech firm plans to reinstate the practice with some new changes in software updates this autumn, which will allow users to gain more control over their privacy, per Bloomberg.

    In a statement last week, Apple said that as a result of their recent review, “we realise we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise.”

    The tech giant also stated it would work to delete inadvertent recordings, following more concerns from users that it could be retaining recordings from Siri that were accidentally picked up due to a mistaken button press or the system thinking the user had said, “Hey Siri”.

    It also maintained that less than 0.2% of Siri commands were analysed, but that in another change, only its own employees will listen to audio samples, rather than outside contractors.

    While it will no longer store audio recordings, computer-generated transcriptions will be held anonymously for up to six months.

    The Guardian reported that at least 300 contractors in Europe lost their jobs as a result of Apple suspending its grading program.

    Other tech firms are following suit when it comes to customer privacy. Amazon still “audits” interactions with its virtual assistant, Alexa, but is now letting users opt out of human review. Similarly, Facebook revealed last month that users will be able to opt out of the social media service sharing and tracking their data.

     

    Source: Bloomberg, The Guardian

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