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
27 weeks 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
7 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
7 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
27 weeks 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
7 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
27 weeks 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

windows 10

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Friday November 27, 2020 7:16 am PST by
Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system (via The 8-Bit). Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the...
iPhone black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPhone Deals

Friday November 27, 2020 12:56 pm PST by
Black Friday is halfway done, but there are still a few deals to shop for on iPhones at carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. AT&T Starting with AT&T, you'll find up to $700 off any iPhone 12 when...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
iphone trade in store

UK Environmental Committee Says Apple Contributing to 'Throwaway Culture' of 'Short-Lived Products'

Thursday November 26, 2020 7:07 am PST by
Technology companies like Apple are contributing to e-waste by making their products difficult to repair, and charging expensive repair fees, according to a lengthy report published today by the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee. "We were told that Apple glues and solders parts together on their laptops, which makes repairing them very difficult," the Committee wrote in a summary ...
MacBooks black friday

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Mac and MacBook Deals

Thursday November 26, 2020 8:29 pm PST by
For Black Friday 2020, many retailers have solid deals on a variety of Macs. Apple's new M1 Macs are ones everyone wants right now, but because they're so new, deals on them are fairly sparse, although we are seeing some modest discounts. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps...
Top Stories 38 Feature

Top Stories: Black Friday Deals, Redesigned MacBooks, Hands-On With Apple's M1 Macs

Saturday November 28, 2020 6:00 am PST by
With Apple's holiday hardware lineup seemingly all set, attention this week turned to the shopping end of things with Apple and other retailers rolling out their Black Friday deals. That wasn't the only news this week, however, as we've continued to learn more about Apple's new M1-based Macs and we've even heard some fresh rumors about redesigned Mac notebooks coming next year, so read on...
General black friday 20 sale feature 2

Apple Black Friday 2020: Our Top Picks

Friday November 27, 2020 6:16 am PST by
Black Friday shopping has officially kicked off across the United States, and we've been collecting the best deals for Apple's iPads, Macs, AirPods, the HomePod, Apple Watch, and more in separate articles. In order to further streamline your Black Friday shopping this year, we've put together this quick list of our top picks of the overall best Apple-related bargains happening today. Note:...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Thanksgiving Day Deals Still Available on AirPods, M1 Macs, Apple Watch Series 6, iPads

Thursday November 26, 2020 10:21 am PST by
Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier every year, so there were already a wide variety of discounts available for Apple products on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals remain available even after Thanksgiving, but act fast, as inventory quickly fluctuates. Thanksgiving Day Deals on Apple Products — Still Available:AirPods with a wireless charging case remain available for...