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

  • Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today Launches 2023 Government Security Awards

    Security Today is proud to announce the launch of the 2023 Government Security Awards. The Govies honor outstanding government security products in a variety of categories. For this year’s awards program, participants can choose from 38 different categories to enter their product(s) into. Read Now

  • Back to the Basics

    Back to the Basics

    Security is a continuous evolution of practices and procedures. The developments in technology and advancements in threats make security difficult at times. Although security from one location may look different from another location, there is a common goal applied to security measures. The common goal is protection. Read Now

  • The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    The Top Three Security Trends in 2023

    As security technology has become more widely used, the interest in new capabilities and increased security measures has increased. As we head into 2023, these three trends will shape the security landscape. Read Now

  • TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    TSA Breaks Record Nationally and in Washington for Firearm Discoveries in 2022

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers in Washington detected 164 firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in 2022, with the majority of the firearms discovered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA) security checkpoints. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software

    Johnson Controls, the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, and architect of the Open Blue digital connected platforms, has released the newest version of the Tyco Kantech EntraPass security management software. 3

  • Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    Camden Door Controls CV-603 2 Door Bluetooth Access Control System

    his app-based system is designed to provide ‘best in class’ security of doors and gates, with up to 2,000 users. The intuitive programming app is Apple® and Android® compatible, with easy to use system set-up, user administration, downloadable audit trail and data back-up. 3

  • Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo Home Security System

    Kangaroo is the affordable, easy-to-install home security system designed for anyone who wants an added layer of peace of mind and protection. It has several products, ranging from the fan-favorite Doorbell Camera + Chime, to the more comprehensive Front Door Security Kit with Professional Monitoring. Regardless of the level of desired security, Kangaroo’s designed to move with consumers - wherever that next chapter may be. Motion sensors, keypads and additional features can be part of the package to any Kangaroo system in place, anytime. Additionally, Kangaroo offers scalable protection plans with a variety of benefits ranging from 24/7 professional monitoring to expanded cloud storage, coverage for damage and theft. 3