A few weeks ago it was announced that recordings of Google Assistant had been leaked. It seems to be a hit with more speech assistants because now it is about Siri. Apple employees listen to confidential information through the speech assistant, reports The Guardian. According to a whistleblower, employees hear information about, among other things, drug deals and confidential medical information.
Analyzing audio clips
The employees of Apple regularly listen to recordings of Siri for quality control. Their task is to assess whether the activation of Siri was intentional or accidental, whether it was a question to which Siri had an answer, and whether the response of the speech assistant matched the question. A small proportion of Siri recordings are sent to Apple employees around the world, according to the company, less than 1% of daily Siri activations are fragments of a few seconds. Apple emphasizes that the excerpts are not linked to the Apple ID of the user. In addition, Siri’s answers are analyzed in ‘secure facilities’ and reviewers must adhere to Apple’s strict requirements.
Siri is accidentally activated by many users. Chances are that if you have an iPhone yourself, you know exactly what we are talking about. When the phone picks up a word similar to Siri, the speech assistant wakes up. For example, last year there was an interview on the BBC about Syria, after which the broadcast was interrupted by the speech assistant.
According to the whistleblower, who wants to remain anonymous, there have been countless recordings containing confidential information. For example, the employee heard private conversations between doctors and patients, business deals, criminal transactions, and sexual encounters. What is bad is that the recordings are accompanied by user data showing the location and contact details. The accompanying information is used to verify whether a request has been successfully processed. This is inconsistent with what is contained in Apple’s privacy documentation, which states that Apple “does not link the Siri data to other data that Apple may have about your use of other Apple services.”
The Apple employee has released this information because of the chance of identifying people who can be heard in fragments. They have access to a lot of personal data and it could end up in the wrong hands. According to the employee, the people in the excerpts are easy to identify because personal data is also visible.
Privacy of Apple users
Apple attaches great importance to its reputation for user privacy and regularly uses it as a competitive advantage over, for example, Google and Amazon. In January it bought a billboard at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with the announcement that “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone”.