Last July, we reported that Apple was running a user conversation analysis program collected through its virtual assistant, the Crab. This, of course, created such a problem for Ma and for technology giants doing the same thing, like Microsoft it's the Facebook.
In order to maintain its trustworthy user privacy stance (and after a few lawsuits), Apple went public confirming the program's suspension, which meant that thousands of outsourced employees (who were in charge of analyzing conversations with Siri) were dismissed. . Still, the question remains: what was done anyway?
O Irish Examiner talked to some of the staff of Globetech, an Irish company in Cork, who were dismissed after the polemic to investigate what was happening there. According to the report, outsourcers should hear about 1,000 Siri footage clips per shift, most of them just seconds.
Also according to the publication, employees were temporarily hired as “data analysts” at Globetech. More specifically, these people had the role of transcribing the recordings and classifying Siri's responses according to various criteria, including whether the virtual assistant had been "accidentally" bloated.
"They (the recordings) were about a few seconds long," said one former employee, who cannot be identified because he was under a confidentiality agreement. “Occasionally we heard personal data or excerpts from conversations, but mostly they were commands to Siri.”
According to another employee, who also remained anonymous, the reasons for Apple to maintain such a program are "understandable", but that he understands the concern of users about the recordings and the use of this information, even if collected anonymously.
A spokeswoman for Ma also commented on the more than 300 temporary jobs that were closed following the suspension of the program:
We believe everyone should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. This includes our own employees and suppliers with whom we work in Ireland and around the world. We are working closely with our partners to ensure the best possible outcome for our suppliers, their employees and customers worldwide.
In addition to terminating (temporarily or otherwise) the analysis program, Apple has stated that in a future software update, users may choose not to have their recordings used for Siri's data analysis. Let's hope Ma resolves this as soon as possible.