Last month, The Guardian reported that Apple was involved in a serious privacy breach. The company had hired contractors to listen in on its users’ recordings through Siri and they regularly heard confidential information from their iPhone/iPad users.
More recent reports on the matter now give a sense of scale to what was actually happening.
According to an employee who had their contract recently terminated, Apple had hired contractors to listen in on 1000 Siri recordings before it terminated the practice last month. These recordings were then transcribed and graded based on how Siri was triggered and how often the query was successful.
A lot of confidential information was uncovered due to these recordings including medical information, drug deals and private interactions between family members.
Following The Guardian’s report, more than 300 employees working with contractor Globetech were let go. This puts the 1000 recordings per shift into context.
“Mostly it was users with Canadian, Australian or UK accents (who were heard) and there was a smaller team working on users with European languages,” says the employee.
Additionally, the employee said that the user’s personal details were kept anonymous and they would occasionally hear personal data and snippets of conversations.
Apple said that the data “is used to help Siri and dictation … understand you better and recognize what you say”. But the company did not say how there were humans listening in on their private recordings without the users’ knowledge or consent.
Apple, a company that claims ” user privacy is a fundamental human right” suspended the practice last month after details on the matter became public knowledge.
It is also worth mentioning that Apple promotes itself as “the only tech company that you can trust”. Not sure exactly how 1.4 billion iPhone and iPad users around the world would feel about that at this point.