Former Apple contractor transcribing Siri recordings claims company maintains massive data collection

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Apple systematically listens to recordings made through Siri without users knowing, including background noise, the former contractor said after quitting his job for ethical reasons.

Thomas le Bonniec, a former subcontractor at an Apple office in the British city of Cork, quit his job in the summer of 2019 for ethical reasons. Then he denounced that the company operates “in a gray and moral gray area” and helped unveil an Apple program intended to listen to the recordings of the assistant Siri. His job was to transcribe user requests into English and French.

Now Le Bonniec has decided to bring the problem to light and send a letter about it to all European data protection regulators. He explained that he did protesting the lack of action after their previous revelations.

“It is worrying that Apple (and certainly not only Apple) continues to ignore and violating fundamental rights and continue its massive data collection, “wrote the former contractor in the letter, collected by The Guardian.

“I am extremely concerned that the big tech companies they’re basically listening to entire populations, despite the fact that European citizens are told that the EU has one of the strictest data protection laws in the world. Passing a law is not enough: it should apply to privacy violators, “he denounced.

After its revelations last year, Apple He apologized in a statement, released in August, and promised to change his program, which involved thousands of contractors listening to recordings made through Siri, both accidentally and deliberately.

In October, the company released a software update that allowed users to choose whether or not they want their voice recordings to be used to “improve Siri dictation”, and also choose to delete already stored recordings.

The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noise, movies and conversations

However, Le Bonniec argues that the company never faced the consequences of its practice, which violates the rights of its users. “I listened to hundreds of recordings every day made from various Apple devices. These recordings were often taken outside of any Siri activation (…). These processes were carried out without users knowing, “said the former contractor.

The complainant also assured that not only were the users of Apple devices recorded, but also their family and friends. “The system recorded everything: names, addresses, messages, searches, arguments, background noise, movies and conversations, “said Le Bonniec.

“These practices are clearly at odds with the company’s ‘privacy-based’ policies and must be urgently investigated by data protection authorities and privacy guards, “he said.

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