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Apple To No Longer Keep Siri Audio Recordings

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Apple Inc. apologized for allowing contractors to listen to users' recorded conversations with its digital assistant Siri, and said it will no longer retain audio recordings of users' interactions with Siri.

The move comes after the tech giant was accused of violating users' privacy by allowing the practice even as it has maintained that privacy is a fundamental human right. Apple, however, said the practice was designed to improve the quality as well as performance of Siri.

"We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process - which we call grading... As a result of our review, we realize we haven't been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize," Apple said in a blog post.

The company has suspended human grading of Siri requests and decided to make changes to it. However, Apple will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve. The company will stop keeping audio recorded through Siri unless users give their permission.

Users can now opt to allow their recordings to be listened to by human reviewers and only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to these recordings, instead of contractors.

In recent months, technology giants such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple, all had come under criticism for using human transcribers to listen to audio chats of people using their services, including personal and sensitive conversations.

Users are not typically aware that their audio chats are being listened to by human transcribers and thus violating their privacy. Privacy experts have warned that rogue employees or contractors could leak details of the chats, including private and sensitive conversations.

Google and Facebook have said they would suspend the use of human transcribers for their products.

In mid-August, Microsoft said it has updated its privacy policy to indicate that human employees or contractors may listen to audio recordings of people using its Skype calling service and Cortana virtual assistant. It also provided tools that allow users to delete their audio recordings.

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