Have heard the latest? Apple’s Siri is always listening to everything you say and gets recorded by Apple and the company has employees who listen to it all. Or, some of it. Or, maybe that’s not quite the story.
We’ve heard this before. Amazon’s Echo was accused of capturing audio so Amazon employees could listen; but only to make Echo and Alexa better, right? Even Google was accused of the same thing where audio snippets to Assistant were captured and used to help train the utility. But Apple? The privacy king?
Much Ado, Not Much
Let’s do Apple first because that’s what Mac360 is all about, even if we enjoy bashing Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook, and others. Repeatedly. You make requests of Siri. You tell Siri what to do. Some of that information is recorded and saved by Apple, including the ones from a former and obviously disgruntled Apple employee who said Siri captures everything regarding sex, drugs, crime, business, and chit chat.
First, Siri queries are notoriously short in length. Second, Apple has said all along that Siri uses such audio snippets to improve the service and its capabilities, so, move along; nothing to see here. Third, anything an Apple employee or contractor hears recorded by Siri is anonymized, so it is not trackable back to you anyway. Apple stands by that and I am more inclined to believe a public posture from a privacy advocate than a disgruntled ex-staffer.
End of story, right?
Such stories will continue ad nauseam until the robot overlords heard humanity into the valley of death for one last opportunity on the part of humanity to regret designing and building robots in the first place.
That means, you know, like forever.
The problem here should be more obvious than the obvious. Apple needs to be more forthcoming about some of these issues than it has in the past. Remember Batterygate? Antennagate? Bendgate? Slowdown-gate? Apple wants to be our friendly Disneyesque overlord but isn’t very good at it so scandals keep popping up here and there.
Hey, Apple. Put in a toggle switch as part of the initial device setup. Opt in? Opt out? Surely enough customers will turn it on to help you improve whatever you need to make better. 1.5-billion customers and devices still sounds like big data and machine learning to me.
So, Siri is not listening to everything, and very few of our queries or commands are recorded and listened to, but if an Apple employee hears something illegal going on are they required to report it? Is Apple then obligated to notify authorities and help them track down the dastardly deed offender?
Come on, Apple. Pay attention. You might be listening, but customers are watching.