Last year when Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was accused of recording everything that iPhone users were talking through Siri, the company was quick to realise the potential damage and acted promptly. Not only did Apple apologised but also assured users for not exercising such practices that are a serious threat to the personal lives of billions of iPhone and iPad users in future.
However, it appears that all that was just a PR exercise to contain the damages as Apple is allegedly continue to record everything to train Siri.
A year ago, The Guardian broke a stunning story that Apple was utilizing contractual workers to listen to people’s conversations to ‘grade’ recordings and ‘train’ Siri. Shockingly, this was managed without clients consent and contractual workers “routinely” heard classified data from iPhone and iPad users, including clinical data, tranquillize arrangements and chronicles of couples having intercourse.
After the assurance by Apple billions of iPhone and iPad users have had a sigh of relief believing on Apple for ethics and moral. Recently, one of those contractual workers at Apple has levelled serious accusations against Apple by disclosing that despite all the hue and cry Apple continued to record everything that Siri could possibly pick up.
Thomas le Bonniec, a contractual worker at Apple who was listening to the recordings and grade Siri accounts, has informed data protection controllers that Apple “continues overlooking and disregarding central rights and proceeds with their monstrous assortment of information“.
“I listened to hundreds of recordings every day, from various Apple devices (eg. iPhones, Apple Watches, or iPads). These recordings were often taken outside of any activation of Siri, eg in the context of an actual intention from the user to activate it for a request. These processings were made without users being aware of it, and were gathered into datasets to correct the transcription of the recording made by the device.” Bonniec writes.
“The recordings were not limited to the users of Apple devices, but also involved relatives, children, friends, colleagues, and whoever could be recorded by the device. The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noises, films, and conversations. I heard people talking about their cancer, referring to dead relatives, religion, sexuality, pornography, politics, school, relationships, or drugs with no intention to activate Siri whatsoever. These practices are clearly at odds with the company’s ‘privacy-driven’ policies and should be urgently investigated by data protection authorities and Privacy watchdogs. With the current statement, I want to bring this issue to your attention, and also offer my cooperation to provide any element substantiating these facts. Although this case has already gone public, Apple has not been subject to any kind of investigation to the best of my knowledge.” he further adds.
Undoubtedly, the new accusation made by Le Bonniec against Apple is quite concerning. He, in fact, expressed his dissatisfaction towards the action taken against Apple. He blamed that Apple is being allowed to wiretapping the entire population in a bid to make its AI-driven systems more intelligent and closer to reality. But in a process to do so Apple is completely ignoring the personal space of people where no company must be allowed to enter.
Note that Apple’s supposed wiretapping isn’t an isolated case. Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook have admitted to comparative practices however none exchange on security as a selling point like Apple.
After the fiasco last year, Apple allowed users to delete recordings done by Siri in iOS 13.2. But, at the same time, Apple made it clear that the company has planned to resume Siri monitoring after its release.
Alls aid and done, after the new accusation levelled by Le Bopnniec it’s clear that authorities need to relook at practices employed by Apple.
If the above news makes you suspicious and concerned about your privacy in terms of recordings on Apple, you must make the following changes: Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvement > Improve Siri & Dictation and check it is off, then Settings > Siri & Search > Siri History and tap ‘Delete Siri & Dictation History.
Apple is yet to respond to the fresh charges. But looks like the story is far from over yet. So, stay tuned.