Siri eavesdropping

Consumer audio recorded by Apple’s Siri platform has been shared with external contractors.

A whistleblower working as a contractor revealed that the company’s digital voice assistant software records audio collected by consumer devices–including iPhones, Apple Watches, and HomePods–and shares it with external contractors. The recordings contained potentially sensitive information.

“A small portion of Siri requests are analysed to improve Siri and dictation. User requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri responses are analysed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements,” Apple told the Guardian, which broke the story. 

Apple’s customer-facing privacy policy does not explicitly say that recordings from devices could be shared with contractors, which raises concerns for privacy and consumer advocates.

“Amazon and Google allow users to opt out of some uses of their recordings; Apple offers no similar choice short of disabling Siri entirely,” wrote Alex Hern for the Guardian.

Privacy concerns about the practice are compounded by the fallibility of Apple’s voice recognition software. The phrase “Hey, Siri” can be triggered by other sounds and words. Siri is also activated in Apple Watches when the user raises their wrist and speaks.  

News about Apple’s overshare followed on the heels of news about Google’s virtual assistant software

Apple has recently attempted to distance itself from Google and other IoT devices with ad campaigns directly targeting their competitors as less privacy-friendly.

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