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Apple may no longer have actual people listening to Siri recordings. But when it did, a new report suggests that they listened to a lot of those recordings.
The third-party contractors who “graded” Siri requests were expected to listen to more than 1,000 interactions with Siri each shift, one such contractor who was abruptly terminated this week told The Irish Examiner.
In addition to the amount of recordings that the employees listened to each shift, the former Siri contractors also revealed a few other details about the practice.
For one, each voice recording was transcribed and graded on a number of factors. That includes whether the Siri interaction was intentional or accidental and whether or not Siri was able to assist the user.
“They were about a few seconds long, occasionally we should heard personal data or snippets of conversation,” the source said. “But mostly it would be Siri commands.”
Additionally, the contractor maintained that every Siri user’s identity was kept anonymous.
It’s worth noting that the third-party firm, Cork, Ireland-based Globetech, seemed to mostly deal with Apple users in the United Kingdom and Europe.
“Mostly is was users with Canadian, Australian or UK accents and there was a smaller team working on users with European languages,” the contractor said, adding that there was also a “small number” of recordings from Irish users.
Last month, an anonymous whistleblower told The Guardian about Apple’s practice of having human subcontractors listen to Siri recordings. The source said that employees at their company regularly heard sensitive medical information and business deals, as well as other confidential or personal situations.
Apple has always been clear about the fact that some Siri recordings are manually reviewed. But in the wake of The Guardian’s report, the Cupertino tech giant put a stop to the practice while it carried out a thorough review of the process.
Following that decision, the Irish contractor said that there was a “clampdown” at Globetech — which included graders being unable to have their personal smartphones with them at work.
In a statement sent to Globetech employees, the company said that it “will no longer be engaged in the provision of these services to Apple.”
Because of the nature of the firm’s business, many of its employees are contract-based. With the termination of the Apple contract, many employees are likely impacted, The Irish Examiner reported.
In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said that everyone involved — including consumers and contractors — should be “treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
“We’re working closely with our partners as we (review the grading process) to ensure the best possible outcome for our suppliers, their employees and customers around the world,” the spokesperson added.