Archive for July 26, 2019

Is Apple Listening Into Conversations That You Have With Siri? Yes… But You Agreed To That.

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 26, 2019 by itnerd

Apple’s marketing around privacy took a hit today with a report today from The Guardian that details claims from one of Apple’s contractors who says the following:

Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control

These conversations are caught during interactions with Siri that are sent up to Apple to be reviewed and analyzed after they are processed. That sounds sinister. But perhaps unsurprising as any voice assistant, be it Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, never has the ability to process your request on the device that you make them from. Thus they have to be sent up to a server someplace to be processed. On top of that, the only way to improve the functionality of these devices is to have actual humans listen in so that tweaks can be made. So you can’t be shocked that someone is listening in on any requests made to virtual assistant.

And here’s the thing. You agreed to this. In the case of Siri, here’s proof. Go onto your iPhone and click Settings –> Siri & Search –> About Siri and Privacy. Here’s the relevant part that is relevant to this discussion:

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And I am guessing that other virtual assistants likely have similar statements. So your choices are to not use the virtual assistant of your choice, or keep using a virtual assistant. The choice is up to you. But you can’t say that you weren’t warned. Also, in the case of this single whistleblower from The Guardian article, this comes from one contractor who refuses to be named. I’d be more inclined to believe it if they had more sources corroborating the contractors claim. Though on the flip side, if you read The Guardian article you’ll see that Apple doesn’t exactly go out of their way to put out this fire. Thus they haven’t helped their cause in my opinion. Thus do not expect this go away anytime soon.