Amid revelations that Apple and Google are conducting human reviews of Siri and OK Google recordings, both companies have temporarily stopped the controversial practice. In the future, only users who agree will have their recordings reviewed.

Human Reviews Of OK Google And Siri

This past week, a report revealed how Apple contractors listen to recordings from Apple users’ Siri recordings. According to the whistleblower who was a contractor as well, they often listen to sensitive recordings such as sexual encounters and drug deals. What’s more, many of the recordings seem to be accidental ones that the users are not even aware of.

Similarly, Google was also recently cited after a Google contractor leaked 1,000 voice recordings to a news organization in Belgium. Just like with the Siri recordings, many of them were unintended recordings of conversations that were captured without the “OK Google” prompting. This led to an investigation carried out by German authorities.

Global Human Reviews Paused By Apple And Google

Amid these issues, both Apple and Google are now stating they will be temporarily pausing human reviews of Siri and OK Google recordings worldwide. According to Apple, the company is temporarily hitting the breaks on the controversial practice but it will bring it back at a so far unspecified date. However, when it does, a major difference will be that they will only be listening to recording of people who agree to it.

In the same way, Google also confirmed that it has paused human reviews of OK Google recordings worldwide to conduct an investigation after it learned of the leaks. So far, there is no set date as to when Google will continue the human reviews, but the company has been ordered by the German authorities to stop recordings for at least three months starting Aug.1.

Opt Out Of Human Reviews

As mentioned, only Apple users who agree to the practice will have their recordings reviewed moving forward. Similarly, Google states that users can also opt out of the practice by turning off the recording of audio data completely, or choosing to have recordings automatically deleted every three or 18 months.

“The use of speech assistance systems in the EU must comply with the data protection requirements of the GDPR. In the case of the Google Assistant, there are currently considerable doubts about this. The use of speech assistance systems must be transparent so that informed consent can be obtained from user,” said Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.

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