Tech giant Apple apologized on Wednesday following the revelations made by whistleblowers last month saying quality control workers are listening to the recordings of user interactions with Apple’s voice assistant, Siri.
According to whistle-blowers, Apple had allowed its employees to review conversations of Apple users with Siri through an undisclosed “Siri grading” program aimed at developing the system and fixing possible issues.
The “grading” program was not listed in Apple’s terms of service, and whistleblowers revealed that some of the recordings relay sensitive information and intimate situations of some Apple users.
“At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. We design our products to protect users’ personal data, and we are constantly working to strengthen those protections. This is true for our services as well. Our goal with Siri, the pioneering intelligent assistant, is to provide the best experience for our customers while vigilantly protecting their privacy,” Apple said in a statement.
Apple suspended the program after the news on the recordings broke. In the recent post, the tech giant confirmed they will be resuming the Siri grading program later this fall, but only after making three important changes.
“First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve,” Apple stated.
“Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects its data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt-out at any time,” the post continued.
“Third, when customers opt-in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri.”
The American multinational technology company was one among the many tech firms that had allowed employees to listen to conversations of users for software improvements.
Among the other notable companies who have announced changes in their programs include Google and Amazon, following the security concerns forwarded by users.
“Apple is committed to putting the customer at the center of everything we do, which includes protecting their privacy,” the company stated. “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.”