You have to disable Siri to prevent Apple from retaining transcripts

What you need to know

  • Apple said it will keep computer generated transcriptions from audio recordings of Siri interactions.
  • These transcripts could be retained for six months.
  • The transcripts will be retained whether you opt in or not.

Apple this week made some big changes to how it handles Siri recordings, saying it will no longer, by default, retain audio recordings of Siri interactions, and instead let users opt in when the Siri grading program relaunches later this year.

That's a big step toward improving user privacy, which Apple admitted it betrayed following a news story about contractors listening to Siri recordings that may include private information. But Apple won't completely cease using your interactions with the company's assistant.

In Apple's new FAQ page about Siri grading, the company says it will continue to review computer-generated transcripts of audio requests, and that the transcripts will be retained for up to six months, regardless if you opt in or not.

By default, Apple will no longer retain audio of your Siri requests, starting with a future software release in fall 2019. Computer-generated transcriptions of your audio requests may be used to improve Siri. These transcriptions are associated with a random identifier, not your Apple ID, for up to six months.

Apple says the only way to stop the company from retaining transcriptions of your Siri audio is to disable Siri and Dictation. For users who want the utmost in privacy but also rely on Siri and Dictation to communicate, there aren't many options.

Elsewhere in Apple's FAQ, Apple explains why it keeps transcripts even for users who don't opt in.

Computer generated transcripts are used to improve Siri and its reliability. These transcripts are used in machine learning training to improve Siri, determine common usage patterns, and update language and understanding models. The transcripts may also be used to resolve critical problems that affect Siri reliability.

So, what are you going to do when Siri's new grading program relaunches in the fall? Let Apple keep transcripts of your Siri interactions? Or completely turn off Siri and dictation?

Brandon Russell