Sci-tech

Apple ends contracts for hundreds of workers hired to listen to Siri

Apple ends contracts for hundreds of workers hired to listen to Siri”

The move came a month after The Guardian reported that third-party contractors were regularly listening to private conversations of Apple users giving voice commands to Siri in a bid to improve the quality of its product's response.

At least 300 Apple staff across Europe who were hired to listen in on Siri recordings to help detect errors have been laid off after the company announced the suspension of the programme. Apple said the number of audio recordings reviewed was small - lower than 0.2% of total requests - however customers had no option to opt-out of getting audio retained and reviewed by people except turning Siri off altogether.

The use of humans to listen to audio recordings is particularly troubling to privacy experts because it increases the chances that a rogue employee or contractor could leak details of what is being said, including parts of sensitive conversations.

Secondly it allow users to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests.

Apple is not alone in being at the centre of privacy concerns.

Apple added that data is essential to making Siri better, and that "In order for Siri to more accurately complete personalized tasks, it collects and stores certain information from your device". Finally, Apple's in-house team will delete clips that appear to have been collected when Siri was triggered accidentally. Apple gave a public statement when they highlighted how they were "committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy".

"We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports", Apple said last night. The next iOS software update for iPhones is expected to be released in early October and could be the one where Apple would have been able to implement the promised opt-out capability to its Siri grading system. Apple said that Siri uses as little data as possible to answer queries.

The vendor signed off by saying, "We created Siri to help them get things done, faster and easier, without compromising their right to privacy".

- audio recordings would no longer be retained by default.

People who still opt-in to have their recordings listened to by real-people can do it. Still, recordings should have never been made and sent without a user's express knowledge.

Apple on Wednesday mentioned that it's going to stop keeping audio for human review and as an alternative let customers decide into having their audio reviewed if they choose.



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