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According to the lawsuit, Apple hired contractors to access Siri's effectiveness, and the assessments often include listening to private conversations when Siri was accidentally triggered, The Guardian reports. Since the charges, Apple has announced it was suspending the AI operational assessments. It added in a statement that users would be able to opt-in in the future if the program was resumed.
Accusers claim Siri users were being recorded unintentionally and that material was then accessed without the users’ consent. Claimants say Apple failed to inform consumers that information would be accessed in this way.
Other AI, or artifical intelligence, and voice-activated assistants have recently faced consumer scrutiny, including Amazon's Alexa. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that the company had hired a performance improvement unit of thousands of employees to listen to user recordings captured by its Echo smart speakers.
HOW IT WORKS
Once Siri is initiated, the user’s name and the request or question is sent to Apple's voice-recognition servers, according to Business Insider. Apple maintains data and recordings for up to six months for app performance improvement. After six months, the recordings are compressed and save without an identifier for an additional two years. Depending on the value of the information received, Apple may hold the data for longer for processing by human review.
When asked how app performance reviews work, Apple explained to Fox Business that Siri's grading is a process of coding data for internal learnings only and is used for the ongoing improvement and quality assurance of Siri. Apple added that testing is randomized and reviewers adhere to strict confidentiality under Apple's policies.
Apple assured customers it was improving data reviews in the future, while maintaining privacy. "We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy," the company said in a statement.