Apple will resume Siri grading programme in the autumn

This week, Apple announced that it will recommence its Siri grading programme during the autumn, but not before making a number of privacy-related upgrades.

In the first place, the company will only collect audio samples from owners who have agreed to take part in the grading programme in future, and they will be able to opt out at any stage. Only Apple’s own staff will listen to the audio samples, and the company will destroy these samples afterwards.

The firm also promised to delete all accidental Siri recordings.

This comes after The Guardian revealed that third-party contractors often listened to confidential conversations during the Siri grading process. Apple subsequently halted the grading programme so that it could be reviewed.

The company later issued an apology, saying that “we realise we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for what we apologise.”

Apple also promised that when the programme resumes during the autumn of 2019, it will no longer keep Siri audio recordings after they were evaluated, only listen to recordings from users who have opted in, and no longer use third-party firms to listen to Siri recordings – only its own personnel.

Apple also reconfirmed its commitment to user privacy.

Before halting the Siri grading programme, Apple claimed that it reviewed a maximum of 0.2% of Siri conversations and their transcripts. The aim of the project was to grade Siri’s responses in order to enhance reliability and to determine whether Siri was accidentally invoked or not.

In the press release, the Cupertino-based firm recommits itself to protecting user privacy and explains how Siri already lives up to that commitment. Apple also adds that it doesn’t use Siri data to construct a marketing profile of any particular user and explains how it uses a random identifier to keep track of data during the evaluation process.

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