Apple Makes Major Privacy Focused Changes to Siri Grading Program

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Apple has made some changes to how it handles Siri recordings from users. The company will no longer be retaining audio recordings of Siri interactions.

The move from Apple comes after a whistleblower revealed that as a part of the Siri grading process, third-party contractors listened to Siri interactions of users. The revelation led to quite a bit of uproar as many people felt Apple was not upfront about it and did not offer users an option to opt-out of this grading process. Contrary to Apple’s strong stance on privacy, the company automatically enrolled all users in its Siri grading program.

Due to the controversy, Apple was quick to suspend the grading program and promised to review it thoroughly. Post the review, the company has made a number of changes to its grading program. It will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions, and it will not share audio recordings of users who willingly join the grading program with third-party contractors. The best part, however, is that users will not be automatically enrolled in the grading program. Instead, they will have to opt-in to the program themselves.

The Siri grading program will only resume later this fall once Apple is done rolling out the software update to its users worldwide.

As a result of our review, we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize. As we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users — but only after making the following changes:

– First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.
– Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time.
– Third, when customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri.

Apple also highlights in its announcement as to how Siri protects the privacy of its users. Nonetheless, the company realizes that it has not lived up to the high standards it has set for itself with its grading program and is thus making changes to them.

Our Take

Do you think Apple’s apology and the new privacy-focused changes to Siri grading program enough? To me, it looks like it has become a trend for Apple to first make some major privacy related blunder and then apologize to users about it.

[Via Apple]