Aug 30, 2019

Apple Releases Statement Regarding Siri Privacy

Image via The Verge
Apple has released a statement on Wednesday regarding their apology of compromising Siri’s privacy and security. They stated that the company will no longer save people’s recordings of Siri interactions and responses and give users an option to let Siri take recordings for only the Siri team could listen or not. But, let’s explain what Apple is saying in their statement from Apple Newsroom.

Apple explains the changes in what they are doing for now:
• First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve.

• Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects its data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt-out at any time.

• Third, when customers opt-in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri.
We agree with Apple’s call to action on the Siri recordings controversy. It is a seriously important thing to absolutely eliminate the analysis of listening to Siri recordings by employees because it can let them get access to people’s private information.

Apple says that these recordings are made when ‘Hey Siri’ is summoned in one’s iPhone, they get 0.2% of the response into their review team. They use it to assess Siri's response quality and to improve reliability. But, sometimes it's used to have Siri learn from your own interactions through machine learning.

Although Siri uses little data as possible to improve their responses, Apple doesn't do anything else with the information. But, in situations like asking Siri for nearby events uses general location data, which is not as much than finding the nearest supermarket. If you use Siri to find nearby stores and businesses, then you are giving Siri a lot of information about your iPhone’s location. We think the significance in asking Siri certain questions about Maps, Messages and many services what Siri is getting information from our iOS devices and reviewing them. That’s the main reason why Apple has decided to stop listening to your voice recordings with Siri as of now.

Next, Apple needs to use AI and machine learning to the entirety of Siri responses from iPhone users. In the way of Apple taking security and privacy seriously to the quality control of Siri responses, machine learning is just enough to make a virtual assistant work like magic. Siri never transmits data to Apple’s servers when it comes to sending an iMessage or translating phrases. Instead, it uses machine learning and text to speech to translate words and read them aloud. But before Apple eliminated the grading sessions for Siri recordings, they used machine learning to find out what the user is saying in the voice recordings.

Albeit with the voice recording scandal regarding Siri, the Cupertino company has to use AI to analyze your responses instead of having Apple employees to know your personal things about your life. It is not an ideal decision to have people rely on Siri improvement by listening to over billions of iPhones recording people’s voices. AI and machine learning are enough for Apple to improve Siri quality as it can reduce the amount of data and recordings Apple has to know about your personal information. It can still give you different responses and the same type of responses but in a more private way. Just like when you connect AirPods to your iPhone and frequently open a music app every time you connect it, it’ll always suggest you open the app the next time you connect the accessory to your device. That’s how machine learning works and it never sends your information to Apple’s servers.

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