Apple has formally apologised to Siri users on Wednesday after revelations emerged last month that the company paid contractors to listen to and transcribe anonymised audio, some of which reportedly included recordings of “couples having sex” and “drug deals”.
In its formal apology, Apple affirmed that “privacy is a fundamental human right” and announced it had reviewed its policies to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“As a result of our review, we realise we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise,” the company said.
The statement clarifies that only 0.2 percent of Siri requests were actually reviewed, and that the programme was intended to improve the reliability of the voice control service. However, Apple will no longer “retain audio recordings of Siri interactions,” though written transcripts will still be used.
Only Apple employees will have access to this data – no contractors, in other words.
The original report in The Guardian asserted that private conversations were shared with contractors working with Apple thanks to Siri being accidentally activated. A whistleblower said they had access to audio that was never intended to be transmitted to Siri:
There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.
Apple isn’t the only company stung recently over essentially the same thing. Last month, Facebook announced it would no longer “employ human review” of customer audio, which was collected from Messenger.
“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said at the time.
Obviously, it’s worth remembering that every tech company has oodles and oodles of your data no matter what, but it seems like the chances of your sexual activity being listened in on by a random contractor is, well, somewhat less now. Fantastic!Image: Getty Images