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Before Being Laid Off, Contractors Listened to 1,000+ Siri Recordings Per Shift

Before Being Laid Off, Contractors Listened to 1,000+ Siri Recordings Per Shift

While Apple may have suspended the program that used contract employees to listen to Siri recordings to improve Siri’s responses to inquiries, there are still reports coming out about the program.

The Irish Examiner (via The Verge) says the Siri grading contractors working in Cork, Ireland, were expected to listen to 1,000+ Siri recordings per shift. Most recordings were only a few seconds in length. While Siri contractors mostly heard Siri commands, there were times they would hear personal information or snippets of conversation.

Workers “graded” each recording, based on various factors. Factors included whether or not the Siri activation was accidental or if the query was outside of Siri’s range of abilities.

A contractor that spoke with the Irish Examiner said that Siri user details were kept anonymous, and that most of the voices in the recordings he heard had Canadian, Australian, and U.K. accents.

“I understood the reasons why the company was doing it but I could see why people would feel it was a breach of privacy because they weren’t telling people,” said the contractor. “I think the lack of consent was the issue.”

Data analysts at Globetech, a Cork-based firm, were told this week that their work with Apple has been terminated. While Apple nor Globetech have confirmed how many employees were let go, The Irish Examiner says that more than 300 contractors working on transcription and grading for Apple may have lost their jobs.

Apple announced last week that the transcription and voice grading work would be coming to an end. Apple said it would be reviewing the Siri grading process that was being used, and will also be adding a feature to allow users to opt out of allowing their Siri recording to be used for quality control purposes.

“We believe that everyone should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve — this includes our own employees and the suppliers we work with in Ireland and around the world,” said Apple. “Apple is committed to customer privacy and made the decision to suspend Siri grading while we conduct a thorough review of our processes. We’re working closely with our partners as we do this to ensure the best possible outcome for our suppliers, their employees and our customers around the world.”

While it isn’t clear when Apple may resume the Siri grading program, but it will likely not resume until Apple releases a software update that allows users to opt out of the program.