Screenshot from Apple.com

Apple on Wednesday apologized for how it handled the audio files when customers accessed its Siri assistant, and announced a series of changes aimed at better safeguarding customer privacy.

Why it matters: In recent weeks it has come to light that several of the major tech companies, including Apple, Google and Amazon, had been letting workers access a portion of virtual assistant conversations as part of their efforts to assess and improve quality.

Apple allowed contractors to listen to a small subset of customers' recordings, but put that program on hold earlier this month amid customer concerns.

The iPhone maker announced three significant changes on Wednesday.

  1. By default, it won't keep audio recordings of Siri interactions, but will use computer-generated transcripts to improve quality.
  2. Customers will be able to opt in to a program to share their audio files with Apple to help Siri get better. "We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place," Apple said. "Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time."
  3. When customers do opt in, Apple said only its employees — and not its contractors — will be allowed to listen to the audio files. Apple also said it will endeavor to delete recordings in which Siri was inadvertently triggered.

What they're saying: "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," Apple said in a statement. "We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests and began a thorough review of our practices and policies. We've decided to make some changes to Siri as a result."

Go deeper: What Apple knows about you

Go deeper

Most arrested in protests are not associated with antifa

Protesters demonstrate as a Salt Lake City police vehicle burns on May 30. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Antifa may be a focus on the right, but it's hard to find in the court system.

Why it matters: Very few of the people charged in this summer's protests and riots appear to be affiliated with highly organized extremist groups, reports AP.

22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Republican super PAC raised $92 million in September

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, raised more than twice as much this September as it did two years ago, according to a FEC filing that will go live Tuesday night.

By the numbers: The SLF raised $92 million in September, spent $105 million, and ended the month with $113 million cash on hand, as Republicans work to maintain their majority on Nov. 3.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
22 mins ago - Economy & Business

The evolution of HR

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, human resources jobs were on the automation chopping block. Now they're essential.

The big picture: HR departments across the world have pulled off the incredible feat of turning companies from in-person to remote overnight, and as the pandemic continues to determine the future of work, HR has been elevated from a back-office function to a C-suite conversation.