Apple apologises for keeping Siri recordings, announces sweeping changes to review process

From now, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions


Apple had to face a lot of heat after the company acknowledged that its voice assistant Siri listens to "a small part" of users' conversation without their knowledge. As per the company, this was done to improve Siri and maintain quality via a grading process. Companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon also listen to user conversations and audio clips captured via their respective voice assistants, so what Apple did was nothing new. However, given that Apple has repeatedly highlighted user privacy as a major focus for the company, the reveal was an unpleasant surprise.

Well, this raised a lot of question and as a result, Apple temporarily suspended its grading process all over the world. As per recent developments in this story, Apple has now issued a formal apology saying "we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that, we apologise".

Apple apologises for keeping Siri recordings, announces sweeping changes to review process

Apple promises that only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to recordings that a user decides to send to the company. Image: Apple

  • First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.

  • Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt-out at any time.

  • Third, when customers opt-in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri.

This issue came into the spotlight when a whistleblower told The Guardian that Apple records user conversations without their knowledge and these conversations are heard by third-party contractors. These accidental Siri recordings also included some extremely personal conversations.

Apple's latest update makes this an opt-in process with a simple mechanism for opting out. Apple promises that only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to recordings that a user decides to send to the company.