Apple contractors allegedly listened to 1,000 Siri recordings per shift

What you need to know

  • A new report claims Apple contractors listened to more than 1,000 Siri recordings per shift.
  • After suspending its Siri grading program, contractors were let go.
  • Apple said in the future users can opt out of the Siri grading program.

Contractors hired by Apple reportedly listened to more than 1,000 Siri recordings per shift, before Apple suspended the internal project, according to Irish Examiner.

The report, citing a former contractor who was tasked with grading Siri's response to these recordings, said all of the contractors have since been let go by Apple.

In July, a report claimed Apple contractors were hired to listen to Siri recordings, which would sometimes reveal private customer information.

"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 report said. "These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data."

You'll be able to opt out of the Siri grading program in a future software update

Irish Examiner said Apple hired contractors in Ireland through Globetech, a company headquartered at Cork Airport Business Park.

"The recordings were about a few seconds long, occasionally we would hear personal data or snippets of conversations but mostly it would be Siri commands," a former Apple contractor said.

Staff were tasked with transcribing the recordings and grading Siri's performance. A contractor who spoke to Irish Examiner said that user details were kept anonymous.

Following The Guardin's report last month, Apple quickly responded to say that a small portion of Siri requests are analyzed in an effort to improve the artificial intelligence. Apple also said that all recordings are analyzed in a secure facility.

In response to Irish Examiner's report about contractors being laid off, Apple released a statement:

We believe that everyone should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve — this includes our own employees and the suppliers we work with in Ireland and around the world. Apple is committed to customer privacy and made the decision to suspend Siri grading while we conduct a thorough review of our processes. We're working closely with our partners as we do this to ensure the best possible outcome for our suppliers, their employees and our customers around the world.

After suspending its Siri response grading program, Apple said it would give users the chance to opt out in a future software update.

Brandon Russell