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Apple apologises for listening to conversations

Lucy Dean
Apple has apologised for a privacy breach. Images: Getty
Apple has apologised for a privacy breach. Images: Getty

Ever thought that Siri was listening to your conversations? Turns out, you were right, and Apple is sorry about it.

In a rare apology issued on Wednesday, Apple said contractors had been allowed to listen to commands given by users to the voice assistant.

The practice was in place to ensure the quality of Siri’s listening and transcription abilities improved, however it came under scrutiny from The Guardian which found the practice also allowed contractors to hear users’ private conversations.

Apple had previously suspended the program as it underwent a company review, but today said it has decided to require users opt in to having their recordings available for analysis, rather than have this be the default setting.

Additionally, Apple will use only Apple employees to listen to the recordings, rather than external contractors.

“We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process — which we call grading,” the company said.

“As a result of our review, we realise we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise.”

The admission comes after similar statements from Google, Amazon and Facebook, all of which had also been using human workers to review voice recordings.

However, for Apple, the admission comes at a higher cost, with CEO Tim Cook often stating that privacy is a “fundamental human right”.

This same rhetoric was used in the blog post, with Apple saying: “Apple is committed to putting the customer at the center of everything we do, which includes protecting their privacy. We created Siri to help them get things done, faster and easier, without compromising their right to privacy.

“We are grateful to our users for their passion for Siri, and for pushing us to constantly improve.”

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