Apple uses contractors to review Siri recordings, including those made on accident

The Siri voice assistant. (Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr)

In July, 2019, an Apple contractor told The Guardian that they'd heard Siri recordings they shouldn't -- audio of private conversations in doctor's offices, of couples having sex, and apparent criminal activity.

"And you’d hear, like, people engaging in sexual acts that are accidentally recorded on the pod or the watch," said the contractor, who didn't give their name.

Siri users are able to activate Siri by saying her name. Occasionally, Siri will activate on accident. Those accidental recordings were reviewed by contractors and employees to improve Siri's reponses. Apple told The Guardian that they also review a small number of intentional Siri recordings for quality control:

A small portion of Siri requests are analysed to improve Siri and dictation. User requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri responses are analysed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements.

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Sections

Surveillance and Privacy

August 16th

AI-enabled technologies produce and rely on vast troves of personal data, most of which is unregulated and vulnerable to theft and misuse.

These technologies include:

  • Facial recognition: It helps users unlock their smartphones. It also helps police in China track criminal suspects and monitor members of the Uyghur ethnic minority.
  • Personalization: It helps consumers make necessary purchases and discover entertainment, but also encourages developers to collect personal data from increasingly far-flung sources.
  • Voice assistants: They help users answer questions, create calendar events, and set alarms. They also record audio accidentally, and until recently relied on human reviewers to listen to private audio to improve their responses.
  • Smart home products: Similar to voice assistants, these products allow users to remotely operate appliances, set temperatures and access security footage. They also collect a vast amount of private information about the home life of their users.