Over a 1000 Siri Conversations Were Being Heard by an Apple Contractor Daily, Without Consent
Before Apple suspended the partnership with contractors who used to listen in on Siri conversations in order to improve the service, a new report has come forth with some chilling information. Apparently, contractors in Cork were expected to listen to more than a 1000 conversations from the assistant every shift, and this comes from an employee who had his contract terminated without further notice.
Siri Conversations Were Graded by Third-Party Contractors Without Users’ Knowledge
A report from the Irish Examiner (via iDropNews) states that grading of these Siri conversations took place based on a number of factors. For example, if the activation was done accidentally or if the user actually summoned Siri but the voice assistant couldn’t help with a query, then efforts to improve it were carried out, but these could only happen via hired help in the form of contractors, which Apple users didn’t know about until now.
The unnamed employee whose livelihood was abruptly severed states that details of each Siri recordings were kept anonymous, but says that users whose first language was English were the general focus. A smaller team was dedicated to users who hailed from European regions.
“I understood the reasons why the company was doing it but I could see why people would feel it was a breach of privacy because they weren’t telling people.”
Globetech, a Cork-based firm was most informed to let employees know that their services were no longer required, suggesting that Apple would want to protect the privacy of users with the recent events coming to light. For the time being, both Globetech and Apple have declined to comment on how many people were hired to listen in on these Siri conversations. One employee states that they weren’t allowed to talk about the nature of these recordings or they could most likely face legal action, showing that some semblance of privacy was under consideration.
“We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement when we started that meant we couldn’t talk about what we did in detail. We were not allowed to say we worked for Apple.”
It’s not confirmed if Globetech will provide the recently terminated employees with a week’s pay as part of the firm’s goodwill gesture and it remains to be seen if the latter or Apple will aid these people in securing future jobs. Also note that there’s no way to disable Siri completely, but you can figure out a way to be less dependant on the assistant if you don’t want your recordings to be used as part of a future grading system.
Source: Irish Examiner