Apple Apologizes For Siri Mishap & Changes Privacy Policy: Does It Matter?

Sep 5, 2019
AI Voice Asistant Siri On iPad

Following The Guardian report on how Apple contractors are listening to private conversations – from medical details to people have sex – through the Siri grading program, the IT giant made the right step and suspended the program. Apple also changed the privacy policy to further clarify how it processes user data linked to the AI Voice Assistant Siri.

Does it matter, though or is it just a marketing fluff that the corporation is using to cover its tracks?

Accidental Siri Recordings

Apple Logo iPad

At the end of July, The Guardian published an article about Apple contractors questioning the work ethic of the California-based IT corporation.

Since its whole marketing is based on privacy and attention to detail, Apple gave Siri recordings to contractors in order to analyze the proper functionality of the software. Many of those recordings, however, weren’t actually intentionally and didn’t have the user explicit consent. In fact, they were triggered by accident which means contractors could hear people in a variety of situations that the user considered private like sex, medical discussions, and even drug dealing.

Apple didn’t give the contractors names or other specific personal details – the company was only interested in grading the software – yet some recordings revealed actual names, medical conditions, and other undesired details.

Three Major Privacy Changes

It took a month for Apple to actually react to the story, but eventually, it did.

The IT company apologized for not ‘fully living up to our high ideals,’ in a press release published in late August.

Apple did insist all user data is anonymous and does not link it to any ID or phone number. Moreover, the data Siri sends to the central server is minimal & only 0.2% of the recordings are actually reviewed and ‘grade.’

Nevertheless, it did announce three major privacy policy changes meant to improve Siri’s overall privacy protection.

First of all, NOT retaining any audio recordings will be the default option, from now on, a welcoming and necessary change that should have been explicit in the first place.

Secondly, anyone interested in improving Siri, can opt in. The AI voice assistant will contain audio recordings that could hit Apple’s central servers, from time to time.

Thirdly, only Apple employees would be allowed to listen to those recordings, as if that was the issue with Siri’s story leak. Obviously, it’s not important who listens and it’s not important if those listeners have signed non-disclosure agreements. What is important and how such sensitive audio recordings were contained & forwarded to actual human beings, without the user explicit consent.

Still, the IT corporation decided to suspend the grading program, for the time being. After the next software upgrade this fall, though, it may resume but without the contractors.

Internet Privacy Lock

Does It Matter Siri?

Unfortunately, it took a leak and an article published into the mainstream media for Apple to react. If the Guardian wouldn’t have reported the privacy issues, most likely Apple would have continued to do business as usual, which is concerning, to say the least. Who knows what other ‘mishaps’ IT giants overall has done and how many are still undiscovered?

It’s the sad truth. All online mammoths like Apple have taken our private life turned into strings of data for granted. More dangerously, they didn’t care about the consequences which means they actually don’t care about their customers, no matter the marketing fluff and slogans behind this truth.

All they are interested in is how to take your private life away, analyze it for ‘improving’ something, and ultimately make you a slave of their own smart devices. Opting out by default is not a privilege a user should have, it’s actually a right and a necessity that we all deserve in this ever-dangerous online environment.

Don’t you agree?

Are Apple’s privacy policy changes a step towards a new (and old) normal? Do you believe the company actually cares about its customers’ privacy? Let us know in the comment section below!

Images courtesy of Flickr & Wikimedia.


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