Apple iOS 15 Bug Shared iPhone Recordings With Siri After Opting Out In Privacy Fail

Apple iPhone 13
Apple has fessed up to a bug introduced in iOS 15 that, for some iPhone users, was not respecting their wishes to opt out of sharing voice recordings to strengthen Siri, the built-in digital assistant. Fortunately this privacy bug was stomped out with the release of iOS 15.2, so be sure your iPhone is updated (the current non-beta release is iOS 15.3).

At issue was a quirk with the "Improve Siri & Dictation" setting. On a "small portion" of iPhone devices who had previously opted out of the feature, the iOS 15 update re-enabled without their permission. When enabled, audio interactions with Siri are stored on Apple's servers and then analyzed by Apple employees to ultimately improve Siri, dictation, and natural language processing.

"Your request history is associated with a random, device-generated identifier for six months. Your request history may include transcripts, audio for users who have opted in to Improve Siri and Dictation, and related request data, such as device specifications, performance statistics, and the approximate location of your device at the time the request was made," Apple explains.

Opting out means recordings of your interactions with Siri are not stored on Apple's servers, or at least that's supposed to be the case. In a statement provided to ZDNet, Apple acknowledged the iOS 15 "bug inadvertently enabled the setting" on some smartphones, and that starting with iOS 15.2, it "turned off the Improve Siri and Dictation setting for many Siri users" while it fixed the issue.

"Since identifying the bug, we stopped reviewing and are deleting audio received from all affected devices," Apple added.

It's not clear exactly how many iPhone devices were impacted by this privacy fumble, and/or how many of them have not yet updated to iOS 15.2 or later. That said, the latest beta for iOS 15.4 includes Apple's fix and will presumably respect your wishes to opt out of the feature, if that is what you choose. If so, the only thing you have to worry about is