Apple issued rare apology after report revealed employees regularly listened to private conversations

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

The hardest words to say are, "I'm sorry," but Apple (surprisingly) doesn't have a problem saying them after a whistleblower revealed that human strangers were listening to your private conversations. Apple commendably went a step further and actually fixed the issue that makes it feel like your phone is eavesdropping on you.

The unnamed whistleblower told The Guardian that Siri records conversations as a form of quality control called "grading." The purpose was to allow Apple to improve Siri, but it ended up feeling like one huge privacy violation.

It turns out, Apple's voice assistant could be triggered accidentally, even by muffled background noises or zippers. Once triggered, Siri made audio recordings, some of which included personal discussions about medical information, business deals, and even people having sex. The percentage of people yelling out, "Hey Siri!" while getting it on is probably very small.


RELATED: After someone tried selling her nude photos, Sia shared them on Twitter

Apple ensured that these recordings wouldn't be linked to data that could identify you, but the recordings were linked to user data that showed location, app data, and contact details. So, yeah, they could actually identify you.

To make things worse, the recordings were listened to by third-party contractors, not Apple employees. "[T]here's a high turnover. It's not like people are being encouraged to have consideration for people's privacy, or even consider it. If there were someone with nefarious intentions, it wouldn't be hard to identify [people on the recordings]," the whistleblower told The Guardian.

Apple did the right thing and apologized for the practice. "We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process. We realize we haven't been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize," Apple said in a post.

Not only that, they changed their policy to address the concerns revealed in The Guardian article. Now, Apple will no longer record conversations as a default. If you want to share your conversations with Apple so they can make improvements on Siri, you have to specifically opt in. Apple will also stop using third-party contractors to listen to the recordings. Quality control will be left to Apple employees who will review computer-generated transcripts instead of recordings. Any accidental recordings will be deleted.

RELATED: IT pros share some crucial lessons on how to avoid getting hacked

Technology has made our lives easier, but it's also ushered in a whole slew of privacy concerns. It's hard not to feel like your phone is your own personal telescreen from "1984," but worse because at least telescreens didn't have addictive Snapchat filters. Why should privacy be the trade-off just because we want the convenience of being able to say, "Hey Siri, what's the difference between a dolphin and a whale?" It's nice to have the peace of mind that we can make robots do our bidding without feeling like they're spying on us – at least when it comes to our iPhones.

popular


Hollywood is finally moving closer to equality. The past few years have seen a growing number of films starring, written by and directed by women. There's still a lot of progress yet to be made, of course. But there's one area where women have been kicking butt and taking names for decades: action films. Ironically, action films are stereotyped as the launching pad of the manliest of manly men: Schwarzenegger, The Rock, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and so on. But some of the biggest action hits, both critically and commercially, are led by women.

If you're looking to expand your home video library for the holidays or just searching for a great holiday playlist while taking out some healthy aggression, here are 12 of our all-time favorite films featuring strong women front and center.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. It's a sad and heartbreaking experience, but there still is a lot to learn from going through something so tragic. Beyoncé recently shared what she learned from her miscarriages in an "ask me anything" published in the January 2020 issue of Elle Magazine.

A fan asked Beyoncé if she was disappointed she didn't win awards for Lemonade and Homecoming. Beyoncé said her miscarriages helped put it in perspective. "I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn't know I needed. Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift," she said in Elle Magazine.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Even though 68% of women in America where size 14 or above, plus sized women tend to draw more heat for the outfits that they wear, especially if those outfits are even remotely racy. Earlier this week, Lizzo was spotted at a LA Lakers game wearing the dress heard round the internet. Dubbed the "thong dress," Lizzo's t-shirt dress was straightforward in the front, but the back featured cutouts featuring her thong and fishnet stockings.

During the game, Lizzo twerked when the Laker Girls danced to her song "Juice," giving the crowd a full view of her ensemble.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The Miss America pageant was started in 1921, but women of color were barred from participating until 1940. It took another 30 years for the first black woman to participate in the pageant in 1970. In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black woman to win Miss America. Now, the winners of all four major beauty pageants are all black women.

Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe, making this the first time in history that Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe are all black women. Tunzi is the first black woman to win Miss Universe since 2011, when Leila Lopes took home the crown.


Keep Reading Show less