(CBS SF) — People may be disturbed to know everything they whisper to Apple’s personal assistant software Siri is not only recorded, but has also been listened to by a total stranger.
It’s been known for several years that the commands we tell to Siri are stored on Apple servers for up to two years, but a new revelation posted on Reddit gives an idea as to where this data ends up.
Reddit user FallenMyst claims to have recently started a new job with a company called Walk N’Talk Technologies that requires her to listen to voice data collected from Apple and Microsoft users to check for incorrect interpretations by the voice to text translations.
An online search turned up no results for the alleged company. FallenMyst later told Motherboard that she was actually doing the work through CrowdFlower, a crowdsourced data mining company that pays people pennies to do easy data analysis for different third-party companies.
She describes some of things she’s heard, ranging from sexting to the more trivial commands like “text Sarah: ‘I’m running late.'”
“I get to listen to sound bites [sic] and rate how the text matches up with what is said in an audio clip and give feedback on what should be improved.” FallenMyst wrote. “Guys, I’m telling you, if you’ve said it to your phone, it’s been recorded…and there’s a damn good chance a 3rd party is going to hear it.”
A Motherboard writer signed up for CrowdFlower to try out the service herself. She earned one cent for every 10 voice recordings she analyzed and said while none of the clips had any specific identifying information, “it seemed very likely they were obtained from individuals using their phone’s voice recognition.”
There’s nothing secret about Apple shipping out this data from their servers. Apple’s iOS Software License Agreement, that many people click “agree” without reading, clearly states, “By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and dictation functionality in other Apple products.”
But Apple says Siri users shouldn’t worry about their identities being revealed. Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Wired that the company removes all personal information from voice recordings before storing your audio analysis and then sending it to third parties.