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Apple stops letting contractors listen to Siri voice recordings

Image: A customer tries the Siri voice assistant function on an iPhone 5.
A customer tries the Siri voice assistant function on an iPhone 5. Copyright Ian Waldie Bloomberg/Getty Images
Copyright Ian Waldie Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Cyrus Farivar with NBC News Tech and Science News
Published on
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"Additionally, as part of a future software update, users will have the ability to choose to participate in grading," the company said.

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Nearly a week after news broke that contractors working for Apple had access to intimate and personal Siri recordings—a practice of quality control known as "grading"—the company said in a statement issued late Thursday that it would halt the practice.

"We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy," Apple said in a statement. "While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally. Additionally, as part of a future software update, users will have the ability to choose to participate in grading."

News of the Thursday statement was first reported by TechCrunch.

As The Guardian initially reported on July 26, such Siri audio clips included sounds of people having sex, discussing medical information and other intimate details.

Apple has maintained that only a tiny fraction—less than 1 percent—of Siri voice recordings are actually heard by human workers, and each recording is usually only a few seconds long.

The "grading" procedure is common among other tech firms, including Google and Amazon, that have similar voice assistants.

Last month, VRT, a Belgian public broadcaster, reported that lengthy Flemish-language clips, sometimes containing personal details, were shared to contractors.

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