Do we still have rights to our personal data and our privacy? For several months scandals such as Cambridge Analytica are emerging. But more recently and with the rise of voice assistants, American giants like Amazon or Google are pouring in ink. It’s now Apple’s turn to talk about his assistant Siri. As reported in an article by The Guardian, some subcontractors of Apple would have access to some excerpts from our exchanges with Siri.
In early July, we learned that conversations with Alexa were stored indefinitely, although Amazon offers an option to clear the logs. A few days later, it was Google’s turn. 0.2% of requests would be listened to for translation in order to improve the technology. Thus, if it is not surprising that Apple is doing the same thing to improve its voice assistant, this could be detrimental to the firm that has always affirmed strong data protection for its users, as for example at the CES de Vegas with a giant poster making a fool of Amazon and Google.
Apple is yet a great advocate of privacy
Specifically, the Guardian article explains that subcontractors have access to “confidential” data dealing with personal matters such as sex, drug trafficking or medical information. Even though these exchanges do not cover all of the exchanges with Siri, a small part is passed on to subcontractors in order to ” evaluate the responses according to various factors”. Apple explains that the data “is used to help Siri and the dictation .. to better understand you and to recognize what you are saying . ”
Apple firm does not specify that queries are handled by third parties
To reassure, Apple has responded to The Guardian and explains ” User queries are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri’s responses are scanned in secure facilities and all reviewers are required to adhere to Apple’s strict privacy requirements. ” The number of randomly selected applications would represent less than 1% of Siri’s daily activations, according to Apple.
Recorded conversations without Siri activation
As with all voice assistants, the problem is that they can activate by mistake, an understandable but problematic fact. Indeed, the records are sometimes accompanied by ” user data indicating the location, coordinates, and data of the application .” Moreover, these accidental records are only reported as a “technical problem” by staff.
Apple would have “forgotten” to clarify to its users, that some interactions with Siri were listened to and treated by people outside Apple. In addition, the competition (Amazon and Google) provides users with a feature to not use the records as part of the service improvement. Apple does not give the choice, it must either disable Siri or do with.