Apple has come under intense criticism from its users and privacy observers ever since the news about the technology giant paying contractors to hear Siri recordings as part of its internal grading process came out.
While Apple has suspended the program where human contractors were listening to Siri recordings in order to improve the voice-assistant’s response to user queries, there still remain a lot of questions regarding what happens to these recordings. In future, Apple will give users the option to opt out of this grading program. But can you actually delete recordings that Apple has thanks to Siri? We try and explain what you can do to improve your privacy with regard to Siri.
Can you delete voice recordings sent to Siri from Apple’s servers?
Unlike Google and Amazon, which give users the option of deleting each and every individual voice query sent to their servers, Apple does not have a similar option for its customers. According to the Apple iOS 12.3 security document, users voice recordings are saved for six months. Apple says this is done so that the “recognition system can utilize them to better understand the user’s voice.”
What happens after six months, “another copy is saved, without its identifier, for use by Apple in improving and developing Siri for up to two years. A small subset of recordings, transcripts, and associated data without identifiers may continue to be used by Apple for ongoing improvement and quality assurance of Siri beyond two years.”
What information is shared with Siri when you initiate a request?
The security document says some user information from the device is sent to the server when a request is initiated. “This includes information about the music library (song titles, artists, and playlists), the names of Reminders lists, and names and relationships that are defined in Contacts.”
Additionally the user’s first and last name (from Contacts), along with a rough geographic location are also sent to the company’s server. Apple says this is being done to help Siri respond with the name or answer questions that need only an approximate location, such as those about the weather.
I don’t want to share voice recordings with Siri. What is the option?
Right now, the only option is to disable Siri on your iPhone, iPad or MacBook. On Apple Watch, Siri will automatically get disabled if you turn Siri off on the iPhone. Keep in mind that you will have to disable Siri on each and every device where you are signed in via the same iCloud account and where the voice assistant is enabled. Follow these steps to disable Siri on your iPhone.
Step 1: Go to the Settings, then scroll down and click on Siri & Search.
Step 2: Click to turn off the ways to activate Siri. There are two ways in this, one is Listen for “Hey Siri” and the other one is Press Side Button for Siri. Turn off both of them. Once you do this, you’ll be prompted to turn off Dictation to delete your data from Apple servers. This will also turn off Siri for your Apple Watch.
Step 3: To turn off Dictation, click on Settings, then go to General and click on Keyboards. Now after this, click to turn off Enable Dictation. On clicking this, you’ll be told that the dictation will be turned off on Apple Watch as well.
Disabling Siri on MacBooks
Step 1: Go to System Preferences.
Step 2: Click on Siri option and uncheck Enable Siri option at the bottom.
Step 3: Click on Dictation in System preferences. Turn this option off as well. Siri will be turned off.