A former Apple employee has just revealed some troubling information regarding the company and the state of privacy. According to the employee contractors “were expected to each listen to more than 1,000 recordings from Siri” per shift. This comes just weeks after initial reports surfaced where major technology companies used third-party contractors to listen to their customers. These companies included the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon, and even Microsoft. The problematic part about both these instances was that companies were doing this with the consent of their users.
Why Apple allowed third-party contractors to listen to Siri recordings?
The report noted the problem that pushed Apple to use third-party contractors. According to a report by Irish Examiner, the company used these contractors to improve its transcription and speech detection. They would listen to the recordings, transcribe them and then grade them depending on a number of factors. The report went on to add that these factors included if the Apple user accidentally activated Siri. Other factors included instances where Siri could not help with the query asked.
It did confirm that Apple kept the user data of Siri users anonymous. The former employee noted that most of the recordings came from users with Canadian, Australian, and UK accents. The company also employed a small team that worked to listen to commands in European languages. However, the main problem here is about consent. Apple Siri users did not know that real humans on the other end would be listening to their commands or conversations.
He went on to add that Apple stopped the program last month after details leaked online. However, this sudden suspension has left “more than 300 contractors” without work. The report also highlighted that it was quite easy to accidentally activate Siri in Apple Watch. The watch then recorded 30-second clips on accidental activation. Apple then sent these clips to contractors to assess the quality. Sometimes users accidentally activated Siri but other times contractors ended up listening to private, and confidential conversations.