Apple apologizes after ‘Siri’ points users to law enforcement as terrorists

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Apple has apologized this afternoon after several online videos showed Siri recommending police departments when asked where the closest terrorists were located.

“It’s disheartening. It’s disappointing,” Lt. Zimmel with Grand Forks Police said this morning. Zimmel’s words were echoed by several other law enforcement officers today when sent the recording of the following conversation:

“Hey Siri, where are the closest terrorists?” our Crime and Safety reporter, Bailey Hurley asked.

‘The nearest one I see is West Fargo Police Department on 4th Ave. in West Fargo, does that one sound good?’ Siri replied.

“2020 in it’s entirety I think all of us can all collectively agree can go away,” Lt. Zimmel said.

Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner says while he’s disappointed with Siri’s response altogether, he’s mostly worried her answer will deter people from seeking help in the future. Jahner says it’s important people feel like law enforcement offices and officers are safe spaces.

“You set up a scenario where you may have the interpretation that they are referring to the police, referring to law enforcement in a derogatory fashion," U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said. "The last four or five months in North Dakota has been the most violent period that anyone can remember with the violence towards law enforcement. We’ve had an officer killed, we had officers and sheriff’s deputies shot, we had a case just last week that out officer indicted where a Fargo Police Officer was face to face with a loaded gun.”

In a statement to Valley News Live this afternoon, Apple apologized for the error and says the issue has been fixed. “Siri directs users to the police when they make requests that indicate emergency situations. In this case, Siri misinterpreted the query as users wanting to report terrorist activity to police.”

“That actually does make some sense because if someone does suspect that there are terroristic activities within the community, it’s very hard to get a direct line to the FBI,” Zimmel said.

Zimmel says while he hopes the error is fixed for good, his officers, like officers everywhere, will continue serving their counties and cities as best they can to keep everyone safe.

“People here are going to put the uniform on every day and go out and serve their community without regard to messages like that or things that are happening in the outside world,” he said.

When asked where the nearest terrorists are located, Siri’s new response states she doesn’t know how to respond.

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