Apple has permanently suspended the program of listening to Siri recordings. The work will only be carried out by the company's employees
After being featured in an investigation by the Guardian, Apple, as previously also happened to Google and Amazon, had suspended indefinitely and globally the program of listening to audio files captured by its digital assistant Siri. The British newspaper had revealed how the Cupertino company had asked the employees of one of its contracted companies to listen to the audio recordings in order to better evaluate the effectiveness of the speech-to-text algorithms and of Siri's subsequent response to the commands given by users.
Now Apple has decided to close the existing contracts with external agencies and to delegate the task only to the company's employees. But that's not all. The Cupertino-based company has changed the settings of its devices and now users will decide whether to allow external people to listen to orders given to Siri.
Apple's external staff had access to a number of very sensitive personal information such as prescriptions and doctor's visits, sex reports heard in real time by Siri and even alleged drug deals. Speeches seized, it seems, by exploiting the voice assistant's activation mechanism. The Guardian's investigation had highlighted how the activation words "Hey Siri" were too similar to other sounds and expressions used in everyday language. A flaw that allowed the employees of the subcontracting companies to listen to a lot of audio clips where they heard, apparently, really everything, except the commands addressed to Siri.
Apple fires the involved employees
Last August 2, following the revelations of the Guardian, Apple had suspended in a hurry the listening program sending home its employees regularly paid with the salary for the current month. Today we have the news that the Californian company has cancelled the incriminated program by firing all the people involved in the scandal and who had been hired to carry out this task. In particular, there are more than 300 only in Cork, Ireland, the employees of the companies external to Apple with whom the Cupertino house has terminated permanently the working relationships.