Irish Regulators 'in Contact' With Apple Over Siri Quality Control Program

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is "in contact" with Apple after a former Apple contractor asked the DPC to investigate Apple's practice of allowing employees to listen to Siri recordings, reports Reuters.

ios132newsiriprivacy
The contractor, Thomas Le Bonniec, requested the assistance of the DPC in May and called for greater protection under the EU's privacy laws.

DPC Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle said that the DPC "engaged with Apple" when the ‌Siri‌ issue first arose last year, and Apple "made some changes," but now the DPC has additional questions.

"However, we have followed up again with Apple following the release of this public statement and await responses," he said, in reference to the letter. "In addition, it should be noted that the European Data Protection Board is working on the production of guidance in the area of voice assistant technologies."

Last July, contractors working on ‌Siri‌ quality control told The Guardian that they were listening to Siri audio recordings for Apple and regularly heard sensitive information that Apple device owners might not want shared, even with the data anonymized.

Apple came under fire for concealing the quality control practice and not making it clear to customers that some ‌Siri‌ recordings are listened to by employees for quality control purposes.

Apple in August 2019 ultimately suspended its Siri quality control program to overhaul how it works. Later in August, Apple ended all transcription and voice grading work done through contracting companies.

In October, with the release of iOS 13.2, Apple added a toggle that allows users to opt out of sharing voice recordings to improve ‌Siri‌ and Dictation, and it provided a way to delete all ‌Siri‌ and Dictation history.

Apple resumed ‌Siri‌ quality control practices in the fall with the release of the opt-out option. ‌Siri‌ quality control is no longer handled by third-party contractors and is done in-house, and Apple has made changes to minimize the amount of data that reviewers have access to.

Along with further scrutiny from Irish regulators, Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit for allowing contractors to listen to and grade the anonymized ‌Siri‌ conversations for quality control purposes.

Top Rated Comments

Vjosullivan Avatar
16 months ago

Google and Amazon do whatever they want but the minute Apple does it oh no.
No, that really isn't how the world works. (Not outside of ConspiracyWorld, anyway.)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
russell_314 Avatar
16 months ago
This is why Siri will always suck. Google and Amazon do whatever they want but the minute Apple does it oh no.

Maybe Timmy needs to buy a few government officials from ole Jeff Bezos
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Websnapx2 Avatar
16 months ago
So, by the article's own admittance:

Later in August, Apple ended all transcription ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/08/23/apple-siri-contractors-quality-control/') and voice grading work done through contracting companies.
Yet:

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner ('https://www.dataprotection.ie') (DPC) is "in contact" with Apple after a former Apple contractor asked the DPC to investigate Apple's practice of allowing employees to listen to Siri recordings
Would that not mean that the "former Apple contractor" would no longer be privy to what apple is doing since they have not been involved since August? What could they possibly know in regards to how things are done now if they are no longer involved and the process has since changed?

I am all for a governing body putting in legal protections so that we can hold accountable anyone who oversteps common sense privacy restriction... I just don't see how a former contractor can shed light on policies enacted after they were no longer involved.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TJ82 Avatar
16 months ago

No, that really isn't how the world works. (Not outside of ConspiracyWorld, anyway.)
Finally someone in here with common sense. After I saw how many Likes that harebrained comment got I was about to give up on reading further until I saw this.

Google has almost permanently been at odds with UK, European, Asian, Indian etc etc regulators for over a decade now. They have been involved in countless privacy scandals, had heavy fines levelled at them, and had to change their policies to fit different markets. Their legal team and backlog is vast.

Apple has had very little by way of privacy concerns in comparison.

How anyone actually living on planet earth could be unaware of that, especially if you're posting on a tech site (and I'm assuming interested in tech news), you should have at least half a clue.

And Amazon, seriously? Amazon? It's a virtual conveyor belt of privacy faux-pas.

Jeez. Be serious guys.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
16 months ago
I honestly don't know what Siri is anymore. It's linked to every app and integrated in all the search menus.

Is Siri now search?
It used to be a separate entity in previous versions of iOS but has morphed into who knows what in later versions.

There's so many toggles to it in settings now along with app links - that it's become overwhelmingly suspicious.

I just turn off every reference to it wherever I find it. Apple blew it
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jakebro Avatar
16 months ago
There is a lot of information missing from this article.

From May to July 2019, Thomas Le Bonniec was hired by Globe Technical Services (GTS), a subcontractor for Apple in Cork, Ireland, to transcribe recordings from Apple devices in France. (Apple has other subcontractors in cities such as Paris, France and Barcelona, Spain.)

During that time, Le Bonniec says that he transcribed hundreds of clearly unintentional recordings every day as part of the Bulk Data Team. Those transcribed recordings were then linked to people's data by the Development Data Team.

Le Bonniec says that the recordings that he transcribed included information about people's children (including their education); health and medication; religious and political beliefs; and sexuality and pornography.

Despite all of that information being considered “sensitive” under EU law and having the most protection, neither Apple nor GTS have been investigated.

Therefore, on 20 May 2020, Le Bonniec formally requested that the European Data Protection Board and its members (which includes the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland) investigate Apple and “other tech companies following the same practices” (such as Google and Amazon).

Le Bonniec acknowledges that his request breaches a non-disclosure agreement and implies that he knows that Apple has not changed its practice since it became public last year.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...