It seems there’s an outbreak of privacy breach enough to go around. Just the other day, Facebook users
were bombarded with information that humans were listening in on their private conversations on
messenger. Now it seems Apple also used the Facebook privacy breach technique.
Apple, like Facebook allegedly failed to fully disclose to its users that human contractors were being
used to listen in to part of Siri recording clips in a bid to improve not just the accuracy, but also the
quality of its digital assistant.
This information came to light in July when The Guardian unearthed that Siri was being used to let
contractors listen to user’s recordings, couples engaging in coitus as well as accessing private and
confidential medical records all in the name of improving their digital assistant.
Questions regarding this issue have come up with webs being span and all sorts of propaganda being
told to Apple consumers. Granted, Apple has the best intentions at heart but ultimately, for a company
as big as Apple, more was expected of them. Users should have been notified earlier that some siri
audio clips were being listened to by human contractors or, why didn’t they let their customers decide
what pieces of their lives they would be willing to let people listen in to.
After the information was out in the open, Apple discontinued the audio listening by human contractors
and very rapidly apologized to its customers. Apple has since offered new ways to go about the
‘grading’ process without necessarily putting their customers private information in jeopardy.
Changes expected to be witnessed once the grading resumes are like audio recordings of siri
interactions will not be retained, it will be upon Apple users to opt in and help siri improve by providing
audio samples and finally, only Apple employees will be mandated to listen to audio samples.
Apple has also informed its users that less than 0.2% of Siri recordings were sent to contractors to
review. It goes further to explain that the Siri audios are random and therefore cannot lead back to
specific users through a phone number or even Apple ID. The random identifier helps to track data that
is being processed.
According to Carolina Milanesi, a tech analyst at Creative Strategies, Apple has played this one out very
well. By acknowledging that they are on the wrong and offering future solutions, it has clearly appealed
to its customers and trust can slowly start to be rebuilt.