Hey Siri, stop eavesdropping
by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/29/19, 12:37 pm
Apple said Wednesday it will stop recording user interactions with its digital voice assistant Siri. The company announced the change following a report that contractors had listened to recordings that contained sensitive information. Going forward, Apple said it would capture computer-generated scripts of Siri interactions to help with quality control but only record audio of the conversations if users gave their prior consent.
How did the eavesdropping become public? A whistleblower told The Guardian Siri had captured voice recordings of private interactions, including discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, or romantic encounters, when iPhone users accidentally activated the feature. The whistleblower was concerned because Apple didn’t make it clear Siri was recording conversations. Apple only said it used some data to “help Siri and dictation … understand you better and recognize what you say.” Apple fired more than 300 external contractors in Ireland who were involved with the project and said it would only use in-house employees for the work in the future.
Dig deeper: Other tech giants, including Facebook, have come under fire for not revealing that third-party contractors listened to audio clips.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.