siri app

Apple Contractors Regularly Overhear ‘Confidential’ Conversations Through Siri, Whistleblower Says

An employee spoke out due to their concerns about the potential misuse of information by firms working for Apple.

Employees who oversee quality control for Siri, Apple’s voice assistant used on products across the globe, regularly hear users’ sensitive conversations, including confidential medical information, drug deals and people having sex, according to new revelations published in The Guardian.

An employee working for an Apple contractor said that their job included listening to a sample of recordings from Siri conversations, transcribing them and then grading the responses according to a set rubric. But, the whistleblower said, that work often included listening to accidental activations of Siri, which were most common on the Apple Watch and the HomePod smart speaker.

“There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on,” the employee told The Guardian. “These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.”

It’s not uncommon for tech companies to employ people to listen to conversations people have with voice assistants ⁠— Amazon and Google also use the practice to improve quality. But the contractor employee was pushed to go public with Apple’s policies because they were concerned that the sensitive information could be misused, especially since there is a high turnover of employees at the company and privacy is not stressed as a priority.

“There’s not much vetting of who works there, and the amount of data that we’re free to look through seems quite broad,” the employee said. “It wouldn’t be difficult to identify the person that you’re listening to, especially with accidental triggers – addresses, names and so on.”

In response, Apple said a “small portion” of Siri interactions are analyzed to improve the product and that the recordings are not tied to 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,” the company said in a statement.

The tech giant added that less than 1 percent of daily Siri requests are used for grading and are typically only a few seconds long. The contractor employee said recordings could last up to 30 seconds, allowing for a listener to figure out what was happening in the interaction.

The report has stirred some controversy, particularly because there is no option to opt out of being recorded other than deactivating Siri completely. Apple has also prided itself on its privacy and encryption policies in the wake of increased scrutiny of Facebook and Google on those issues.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3