Apple Suspends Siri Recording Program

By Dan Anderson ● August 29, 2019
  • Apple has decided to suspend the Siri recording program due to concerns about recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of a quality evaluation process

Apple has reportedly suspended a program where humans listened to Siri recordings and canceled the contractors of around 300 people at its office in Cork, Ireland along with other workers throughout Europe, according to The Guardian. The Siri recording program halted on August 2 after it was determined that contractors often heard sensitive information such as medical details and intimate moments.

Apple’s workers reviewed recording samples from less than 0.2% of Siri requests to ensure that the digital assistant was working properly as part of a “grading” process. But going forward, Apple will no longer retail audio recordings of Siri interactions. But Apple will ask users whether they want to opt into a grading program. And if users opt in, then only Apple employees will review the audio samples rather than contractors.

“When we store Siri data on our servers, we don’t use it to build a marketing profile and we never sell it to anyone. We use Siri data only to improve Siri, and we are constantly developing technologies to make Siri even more private,” said Apple in a statement issued by director of Corporate Communications Catherine Franklin. “Siri uses as little data as possible to deliver an accurate result. When you ask a question about a sporting event, for example, Siri uses your general location to provide suitable results. But if you ask for the nearest grocery store, more specific location data is used.”

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When you ask Siri to read unread messages, the contents of the messages are not transmitted to Siri’s servers since it is not necessary to fulfill the request. And Siri uses a random identifier — a long string of letters and numbers associated with a single device — for keeping track of data while it is processed. So Apple is unable to tie the data to your Apple ID or phone number. And after six months, the device’s data is disassociated from the random identifier.

iOS reveals details on the data that Siri accesses under Settings > Siri & Search > About Ask Siri & Privacy.